TAMPA — Gaither coach Jason Stokes said his halftime speech was unprintable. But whatever he said to his team, it worked. Unable to move the ball in the first half because of miscues and penalties, Gaither rallied from a two-touchdown deficit, took a second-half lead and held on for a kickoff classic win.
Drive of the game: Gaither defensive back Jovan Hammond intercepted Wharton quarterback Adam McAfee late in the third quarter. Four plays later, Decalon Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to tie the score at 14.
Play of the game: In the last 40 seconds, Wharton had four shots at the end zone from the Gaither 17-yard line. The Cowboys sacked McAfee once, forced an incomplete and knocked away two passes, including a fourth-down pass into the end zone.
Stars of the game: Wharton running back Torres Nesbit ran for 65 yards and scored the first TD. Gaither sophomore RB/LB Decalon Brooks had a TD run as a running back, a tackle for loss at linebacker and had a key sack for a 12-yard loss. Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, Decalon's dad, buoyed the Gaither players along the sideline.
Final word: "This is Cowboy football. Nothing comes easy, we just find a way. … I wished we would have put two halves together but if we did have one good half it was the second half." — Gaither coach Jason Stokes
Rod Gipson, Times correspondent