TAMPA — They didn't like the start, but the Tampa Bay Tech Titans were sure fond of the rest of their district opener.
After falling behind by three to Freedom, Tampa Bay Tech tightened up on defense and scored 21 unanswered points to win its first Class 5A, District 7 game Friday at home.
"To win our first district game is huge," Tampa Bay Tech coach C.C. Culpepper said. "We knew the game was going to be tough, but we prepared well all week."
Star running back Maurice Hagens fumbled his first carry and Freedom's Alex Landeta hit a 48-yard field goal.
Tech (4-1, 1-0) didn't panic and answered with Hagens' 12-yard touchdown run for a 7-3 lead.
Freedom (2-2, 0-1) had a great shot to get back in the game at the end of the first half. Deep in Tech territory with less than a minute left in the half, quarterback Tyler Guy had his drive thwarted by Buster Hickman who jumped in front of a pass for his first of two interceptions.
"That was a big play," Culpepper said. "Buster is a big-time player for us."
The Titans clamped down in the second half. The Patriots didn't get the ball inside the Tech 30-yard line. Guy, who threw for more than 100 yards, was sacked three times in the half to halt many drives. Freedom rushed for only 28 yards.
The Titans took advantage of strong defense and scored two more times to put the game away. Quarterback Jonathon Williams took the ball in for a score from 21 yards and Hagens scored for the second time.
Hagens finished with more than 100 yards, Williams had 116 yards and Devontae McCloud had 48.
"(Hagens) really opened it up for me," Williams said. "He let me get to the outside and do what I do."