Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Preseason football: Gaither 21, Wharton 9

TAMPA — Every step on Wharton's spongy, saturated field left a mark, like bear tracks frolicking in a fresh snow.

That made scoring through the air the best option Friday night, which Gaither did three times to post a mushy 21-9 victory over the host Wildcats in a preseason classic.

Gaither, ranked No. 14 in the Tampa Bay Times' preseason poll while Wharton is 15, got touchdown passes from quarterback Alex McGough to Matt Respess, Jeff Suarez and Amani Oruwariye on the way to the win.

"We played okay, but it could be better," said McGough, a FIU commitment. "I could be better, everyone could be better."

Still, McGough seemed pleased, despite being sacked a handful of times by a gaggle of Wildcats like defensive end Antonio Joseph and linebackers Bryan Velez and Daniel Ibsen.

But on McGough's last touchdown, he was able to pick up a ball that slipped from his hands, elude a trio of would-be tacklers to find a wide-open Suarez downfield.

"He's really good at keeping the play alive and keeping his eyes downfield," said coach Jason Stokes.

McGough's second touchdown, a 4-yard fade to Oruwariye, was set up by a 36-yard run by Malik Huff, the longest rush of the night. Huff would later have a big kickoff return that nearly went for a touchdown.

Oruwariye had an outstanding game, starting with a blocked punt on the first series of the contest. It was recovered by D.J. King on the Wildcat 23, and three plays later McGough hit Respess with a 22-yard touchdown pass.

One of the top defensive back prospects in Tampa Bay, Oruwariye also delivered a big hit on a screen pass that drew a collective "Oooooo" from the crowd.

McGough's quarterbacking counterpart, Wharton's Chase Litton, completed six of his 13 passes in the first half for 36 yards before sitting out the second half. His primary targets did not play, and the replacements had a slew of dropped passes.

All six of Litton's completions were to running back Jeff Keil, who added seven carries as well for 77 yards, including Wharton's only touchdown on a 41-yard scamper in the first half.


Preseason football: Gaither 21, Wharton 9 08/24/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]