And then there were two. Admiral Farragut and East Lake are the only two Pinellas County teams remaining in the playoffs after both beat district rivals. The Blue Jackets knocked off Canterbury 38-24 and the Eagles rallied to beat Palm Harbor University 33-26. After playing county opponents, both teams will get an even tougher matchup this week. Admiral Farragut hosts defending state champion Belle Glades Glades Day in the Class 2A state semifinals and East Lake hosts defending state finalist Plant in the 8A region final. Here is the recap from the second round of the playoffs:
1. Teams that run the ball win in the playoffs
As the season winds down and the weather gets cooler, the stock of the running back rises. And the teams that give their running backs a steady diet of handoffs in the playoffs usually win. In two playoff games, Admiral Farragut has rushed for a combined 950 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground. The Blue Jackets have found a nice combination with Rayshawn Jenkins and Todd Macon, who combined for more than 350 yards rushing in a win over Canterbury. East Lake also has been solid on the ground with the sturdy running of Tyler Lane, who had his seventh straight 100-yard rushing game against Palm Harbor University and helped the Eagles win their seventh straight game.
2. East Lake can now win close games
The knock on the Eagles in the past has been their inability to come through in tight games. In the past seven seasons, East Lake was 5-12 in games decided by seven points or fewer. That has changed this season. After beating Palm Harbor University 33-26, the Eagles are 4-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer. East Lake has been able to do it thanks to a balanced offense and the big-play capabilities of receiver Artavis Scott.
3. Canterbury showed it is more than just Brent O'Neal
The Crusaders received a blow when O'Neal, their workhorse running back, was limited on offense because of a separated shoulder sustained in practice two weeks ago. O'Neal, who gained more than 2,000 total yards and had more than 30 touchdowns this season, was held to minus-1 yard on four carries. If he was healthy, the Crusaders would have been able to run the ball and would have had a better chance to win. But they didn't wilt. Canterbury still was able to score and tied the game at 14-all in the second quarter after quarterback Jake Holsinger threw his second touchdown pass of the night to DaSean Thomas.
4. Billy Pavlock deserves consideration for player of the year
Palm Harbor University has gone through a remarkable transformation this season, posting a winning season for the second time in school history and making the playoffs for the first time. Pavlock has been a big part of that resurgence. He had at least one rushing touchdown in 11 of 12 games this season. Against East Lake, he had 159 yards passing, 115 rushing and scored three touchdowns, including a 75-yard run in the fourth quarter that tied the game. He also had an interception. His play nearly got the Hurricanes into the third round of the playoffs.
Player of the week
RB Tyler Lane, East Lake: Lane was crazy good in a thrilling 33-26 win over Palm Harbor University. He carried the ball 27 times for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Every touchdown was a big one in the seesaw game. He scored the winner on a 2-yard plunge with 16 seconds remaining. But he also had touchdown runs of 26, 3 and 5 yards. The Hurricanes may have shut down other key players for East Lake, but they had no answer for Lane. East Lake will need that kind of effort from Lane next week against Plant in the region final.