SEMINOLE — As Pinellas Park prepared to punt with 30 seconds left, Seminole's players had something they haven't had much of this season. Hope.
But the winless Warhawks, down 40-33 with less than a minute remaining, couldn't push the ball past midfield for a chance to tie and the Patriots (7-2) clinched their first playoff berth since 2001.
Up 40-19 halfway through the fourth quarter, Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford started to sub in some younger players. The Warhawks (0-9) took advantage, putting together a quick touchdown drive then a 40-yard fumble return for a score on defense.
"I did some stupid things as a coach in the fourth quarter," Crawford said. "We let it slip away there at the end and almost gave it away."
Senior running back Marquis Samuel had 177 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Pinellas Park, which clinched the runnerup spot in Class 7A, District 9 with Countryside's win over St. Petersburg.
Miles Parks, Times correspondent