Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One key loss triggers Jefferson's recent winning run

Jefferson’s Deiondre Porter, right, has held onto the pain of last year’s loss to Hillsborough. The Dragons haven’t lost since.

JOHN C. COTEY | Times

Jefferson’s Deiondre Porter, right, has held onto the pain of last year’s loss to Hillsborough. The Dragons haven’t lost since.

TAMPA — The most excruciating defeat of Deiondre Porter's career started with a turnover and ended with tears.

For a quarterback who prides himself on his propensity for amnesia — forgetting a misstep and moving on — even this was too painful to file away.

For the second game in a row, Jefferson had taken a three-touchdown lead on a playoff-caliber foe — this time Hillsborough — only to squander it by halftime. Porter drove straight to his Riverview home after that 36-28 defeat, bereft of consolation.

"I cried," said Porter, who attends Jefferson as a magnet student.

He was hardly the lone wounded Dragon. Ask coach Jeremy Earle how long that 11-month-old defeat stuck with him, and he replies, "Since now."

"Kids shouldn't have to go through that," said Earle, whose team similarly had blown a 21-point lead at Armwood in a 35-21 loss the Friday before. "Especially two weeks in a row."

Turned out, fate was as galvanizing as it was cruel. When the crying subsided, rallying crying began. Earle said his team found motivation. Maturity followed.

Since that defeat to the Terriers on Oct. 5, 2012, Jefferson has not lost a game — preseason or otherwise.

Tonight, the Dragons get the Terriers in a critical district rematch.

"We were at a turning point where they could've all started pointing fingers and making excuses and doing that kind of stuff, and they all stuck together and really grew from it," Earle said.

"As bad as it looked and as bad as it seemed and as much as it made everybody really have to make that decision, everybody made the right one and it really brought everybody together. A bad moment turned into such a powerful thing."

Yet the moment itself remains seared in Earle's and Porter's respective cerebrums.

His team leading by 15, Earle watched the Dragons get a pick at their own goal line, and presumed a touchback. When the ball was placed at the 1, Hillsborough converted a safety.

The Terriers got outstanding field position on the ensuing free kick and scored shortly thereafter on Nigel Harris' 10-yard run, making it 21-15. Then, just before halftime, Porter said he employed a play called "St. Louis," a corner post route designed to go atop the safety.

His pass bounced off normally sure-handed receiver Jonathan Moore into the hands of Anthony King, who returned it to the Jefferson 11. With 24 ticks remaining before halftime, Terriers quarterback Dwayne Lawson gave Hillsborough a 22-21 lead with a 9-yard touchdown run.

"We probably had already run that (pass play) 10 times in games and it worked every time," Porter recalled.

Even more wrenching to Earle was how his running game failed to materialize in the second half. Its receivers blanketed by Hillsborough's cover-two man scheme, Jefferson failed to compensate on the ground.

But in five of the Dragons' six regular-season games since, they've run for at least 100 yards. In the sixth, a 41-8 romp of King, they ran for 97.

"It really was a turning point," Earle said. "We haven't looked back and we've won some games big since then, but we've turned into a different team."

And an undefeated one.

Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@tampabay.com or on Twitter @JoeyHomeTeam.

One key loss triggers Jefferson's recent winning run 09/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.