Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Sunday morning quarterback, playoff edition

Five things we learned

1. First round is fairly predictable. Friday pitted the runnersup from one district against champions from another. The runnersup that did win — Pinellas Park, Jefferson, St. Petersburg Catholic and Tarpon Springs — were mostly expected to, and the champions rolled. If anything surprised us, it was Springstead reversing an earlier 42-14 loss to Citrus with a 21-6 victory, and Tarpon Springs shutting down Anclote 31-0.

2. Clearwater CC gets serious. After two regular-season losses and a few wins the Marauders basically slept through, they buried Fort Myers Bishop Verot so fast the reserves played in the first quarter.

3. East Bay might have some offensive firepower. The Indians beat Gaither 34-14, putting up their most points since a 43-9 win against Lennard in the 2012 season opener. The Indians still didn't do much through the air — QB Chris Carpentier completed two passes for 13 yards — but they had 244 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns, leading to 20 fourth-quarter points.

4. Don't lose your cool with so much on the line. Sunlake was poised to knock off favored Gainesville, taking a seven-point lead late. Then, before you could say "unsportsmanlike conduct," Gainesville scored twice in less than two minutes to win 17-14. And in Sarasota, St. Petersburg Catholic was the beneficiary of a taunting call. Instead of the game likely heading to overtime, Cardinal Mooney was assessed a penalty on the point-after, which it missed, giving the Barons a 35-34 win.

5. Special teams matter. East Lake might not have advanced if not for a blocked extra point. Same can be said for St. Petersburg Catholic, which got a 98-yard kickoff return by Jacquan Fuller to start the game against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney.

By the numbers

75 Points by Lakewood against Hudson. It's the most points scored in a playoff game since Plant put up 77 on Alonso in 2009, and the most points Lakewood has ever scored.

27 Regular-season games since Citrus hasn't scored a touchdown. The Hurricanes kicked two field goals in their 21-6 loss to Springstead.

10 Pass breakups by Armwood (four by Nehemiah Miguel, and three each by Aaron Covington and Jordan Griffin).

8 Kickoff return touchdowns by Pasco's Malik Johns the past two seasons, including the Pirates' only score in a 17-7 loss to North Marion on Friday.

Notable performances

1. Deiondre Porter, Jefferson: The senior quarterback single-handedly eliminated Largo 25-17. He gained 203 yards on a career-high 32 carries and scored all four of the Dragons' TDs.

2. Ryan Davis, Lakewood: Davis was nearly flawless against Hudson, completing 13 of 16 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in a 75-19 win.

3. Jacquan Fuller, St. Petersburg Catholic: He returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a score, and had 23 carries for 152 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

4. Kevin Newman, Jesuit: A few late miscues had Auburndale within striking distance, but the Tigers simply handed off to Newman seven straight times to run out the clock. He finished with a 105 yards and a TD in a 29-21 win.

5. Tyler Mahla, Springstead: He had a pair of rushing touchdowns, then threw a 10-yard pass to Joe Jeffords for a score in leading the upset of Citrus.

6. Nathan Johnson, Sunlake: The junior had 29 carries for 120 yards and a TD, his 10th consecutive game over 100 yards.

7. Dominic Cuono, Carrollwood Day: In a losing effort, Cuono, a four-year starter, capped his career with his best game: 18 tackles, 11 of them solo.

8. Justin Motlow, Tampa Catholic: The underrated receiver had another great game: five catches, 156 yards and a TD.

9. Chris Greene, East Bay: The running back ran a career-high 29 times for 166 yards, only the second time he has carried the ball more than 20 times.

10. Carter Mulroe, Sickles: His blocked punt set up a score and stuffed a fourth-and-goal rush to seal the 17-10 win over Plant City.

11. Chavez Pownell, Jefferson: He had more than 125 yards combined rushing and receiving, including a big catch-and-run on the 95-yard drive that gave the Dragons the lead against Largo.

Audibles

"When your backs are against the wall, you come out swinging. That's the kind of team we are." — Deiondre Porter, Jefferson QB, after a comeback over Largo

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." — Kenny Crawford, Pinellas Park coach, after his team racked up 381 yards rushing against Sarasota with its wing-T offense

"If it had to be anyone, I'd rather it be them than Plant. I'll take it from them. They're a great team, and they won't be done next week." — Chase Litton, Wharton QB, on Orlando Dr. Phillips ousting the Wildcats a third straight season

Looking ahead

• Round 2 features rematches from the regular season: Jefferson-Armwood, Pinellas Park-East Lake, Tarpon Springs-Lakewood and St. Petersburg Catholic-Clearwater Central Catholic. Can anyone reverse the result in the postseason, or will the original conquerors — all playing at home — prevail again?

• Plant plays Orlando Dr. Phillips, which beat the Panthers 24-7 last year in the second round. It was the first time the Panthers' season ended that early since 2005.

• Indian Rocks Christian also faces a team that knocked it out of the playoffs a year ago. Naples First Baptist won 42-21 in 2012. Good news for the Golden Eagles: First Baptist QB Jonah Bueltel, who proved problematic to contain last year, has graduated.

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