The Tampa Catholic Crusaders defeated visiting district rival Zephyrhills 21-16 Friday night to improve their record to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in Class 3A, District 4. The Crusaders grabbed the early lead on a turnover by Zephyrhills. An errant pitch by Bulldogs' quarterback Marcus McCants fell short of running back Booker Pickett. The fumble was returned 21 yards by linebacker Willie Queen, giving Tampa Catholic a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Crusaders' offense accomplished very little during most of the first half. Tampa Catholic was held to only 65 yards in total offense, 64 of the yards coming on their touchdown drive in late in the half.
In the closing moments of the first half, Tampa Catholic took a 14-0 lead. Junior quarterback Kevin Dawson connected with Jeyson Wilson on a 31-yard touchdown pass.
The Crusaders' defense held Zephyrhills to only 11 yards in total offense in the first half.
Zephyrhills scored 16 unanswered points in the second half.
Tampa Catholic trailed 16-14 with 2:21 remaining. Dawson engineered a a 6-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in the winning score. Willie Queen scored his second touchdown of the evening on a 14-yard pass play from Dawson, giving Tampa Catholic a 21-16 lead.
Dawson completed six passes for 100 yards, four of them on the Crusaders' winning drive.
Hillsborough County's No. 2 rushing leader, Willie Queen, gained 59 yards in the game to remain second in the county with 799 yards. Chamberlain's Dennis Lundy leads with 816 yards.
Tampa Catholic was penalized 16 times for 180 yards.
TB Vo-Tech notes
TAMPA _ Tampa Bay Vo-Tech scored 38 unanswered points in the first three quarters on Friday to defeat Osceola 44-13 in a non-district football game.
Vo-Tech accumulated 199 yards rushing and 228 passing on 12 completions, including four touchdown passes, three by quarterback Charles Davis. Davis also scored on a 44-yard keeper.
Osceola scored both of its touchdowns on passes by Emanuel Stubbs, who threw 52 yards to Toma Stubbs in the third quarter and 7 yards to Steve Beverage late in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors gained just 41 yards on 22 rushes. Emanuel Stubbs completed 7 of 22 passes. He was also intercepted twice by Vo-Tech defensive back Carl Fitts, who returned the second interception 61 yards for a touchdown in the first half.
The victory clinched the Titans' first winning season in 18 years, according to Vo-Tech coach Joe Severino. It also moved the team within one win of tying the school record of victories in a season.
_ CARY WALDMAN
Sarasota's first-half performance against King Thursday proved why the Sailors are the team to beat in the Class 5A, District 8 race.
But it was their ability to survive a sluggish second half that enabled them to take command of the district race with a 21-14 victory.
Having already beaten perennial district rival Chamberlain, Sarasota (5-2 overall, 4-0 district) needed Thursday's game to buy some breathing room, while King (5-2, 1-2) needed it to hold on to any realistic shot at winning the district.
"They threw more than we thought they would," King coach Steve Vickers said of Sarasota. "They threw a lot on first down when they probably could have run it and gotten two more touchdowns."
After allowing 255 yards in the first half, the King defense clamped down and forced three turnovers in the second half, giving the offense two shots inside of Sarasota territory.
Perhaps the best Lion drive of the night ended on a missed field goal _ and involved a bizarre play.
On the eighth play of a 51-yard drive, Lion senior quarterback Andre Williams threw to his right, only to be intercepted by Sailor defensive back Chris Brown. Following a few blocks up the middle, Brown was on his way to a good runback when he was stripped of the ball and King's Reggie Christopher recovered.
_ JIM TOMLIN
East Bay, Plant notes
East Bay got a measure of revenge Thursday night when it defeated non-district opponent Plant 24-7 at Simmons Field.
Plant (4-2) manhandled the Indians (5-1) the past two years, including a 47-0 win last season.
"We wanted to come get out against them this year and win," said Indian coach Jim Wilt. "Plant embarrassed us the last two years and we were trying to come out and score."
Leading 24-7 in the final minutes, East Bay drove via several passes to the Plant 2-yard line. But in the final seconds, senior quarterback Gary Moore intentionally kneeled down at the 2 to end the game.
"Coach Wilt did a nice job tonight," said Plant coach Roland Acosta. "There were a lot of penalties, but it had nothing to do with (the rivalry). They were just bigger and better than us."
The two teams combined for 152 yards in penalties including a several personal fouls.
Moore, the county's leading passer, completed 11 passes for 228 yards. His 13-yard pass to Jonathan Dawkins and 24-yard strike to Jason Payne set up the winning touchdown in a 16-point second quarter.
The victory came in only the second home game of the season for the Indians. They will finish their schedule with three of the remaining four games at home.
"It was really relaxing for us with no bus ride," said Wilt. "We're very confident right now.
"We want to go 9-1 and appear in a bowl game. These kids are starting to think that when we get beat, it is a big win for the other team."
_ TOM LAYBERGER
Gaither, Jefferson notes
Michael Jordan led the Gaither to a 36-14 rout over Jefferson with 201 yards passing and four touchdowns.
The Cowboys scored on their first four possessions. First was a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jordan to Tom Younger. Then Jordan passed of 72 and 5 yards to Mike Trigg for TDs. And Bobby McQuay scored on a 21-yard run. Two of them came after fumbles by the Dragons.
Before the half, Jordan and Trigg combined again after Gaither recovered a third fumble in Jefferson territory. Trigg caught a 5-yarder, capping a 6-play, 41-yard drive. The score made it 6-0.
The Dragons regrouped during halftime and scored on a 25-yard pass from Rudy Dawsdon to Greg Maddox to cap a six-play, 40-yard drive to start the second half.
"We played to our full potential in the first half," said Gaither Coach Earl Garcia.
_ TERI PLAYFORD
BLOOMINGDALE _ Bloomingdale High's defense gave Bradenton Southeast, the fifth-ranked Class 4A team in the state, a scare Friday night.
Southeast managed to get inside the Bulls' 10-yard line late in the first half, but linebacker Mike Travis forced Seminole quarterback Freddie Douglas to lose a fumble.
Both Southeast touchdowns came on fourth-quarter errors by Bloomingdale's punting team. A bobbled snap gave the Seminoles the ball on the Bloomingdale 25-yard line. On fourth down from there, Douglas hit running back Freddie Smith with a touchdown pass. The kick failed and Southeast was ahead 6-0 with 9:00 remaining.
On the next series, Bloomingdale shanked a punt and the Seminoles took possession at the Bulls' 8. Southeast fullback Turi Thomas scored on the third down with a 3-yard plunge. Thomas also ran for a two-point conversion.
"We knew they liked to run up the middle and we stopped that," Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle said. "We also had good coverage in our secondary (Bloomingdale quarterback Tray King managed to complete only one pass in nine attempts for 44 yards). Their defense played real good against us though. Their bobbled punt snap gave us the game."
"People saw a real good high school football game tonight," Bulls coach Bobby Bennett said. "Southeast is a big physical team and they just finally wore us out."
_ TERRY JONES
Chamberlain, Leto notes
TAMPA _ Chamberlain coach Billy Turner said his quarterback Keith Hayes is the best kept secret in Hillsborough county football.
Hayes is no longer a secret to the Leto Falcons after he completed 8 of 13 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in Thursday night's 38-0 victory.
"He is not that well known, but I think he is one of the best quarterbacks in the county," said Turner.
Hayes' passing led the Chiefs to all three of their offensive scores in the first half. On the Chiefs' first possession, he completed passes of 30 and 12 yards to wide receiver Andre Carter. The key play in the drive was a 29-yard reception by Jure Radovic to the Falcons' 2, setting up Joe Troupe's touchdown run on the next play.
"The linebackers were playing in close to stop the run," said Hayes. "So we went with the screen passes. They were there so we took them."
Hayes, a junior, needed only one pass _ a 55-yard touchdown throw to Andre Carter _ to give the Chiefs a 14-0 lead.
The junior passing combination of Hayes to Carter has hooked up for six touchdown scores this season.
"Andre and I have been playing since ninth grade," said Hayes. "He always seems to get open and has great hands."
_ DAVID KILMER
Brandon, Armwood notes
SEFFNER _ Brandon's 14-13 victory over cross-town rival Armwood was a battle of two young squads.
Numerous mistakes on each side demonstrated the intensity and the frustration by both teams.
Not only was the score close but the total offense for both teams was close. Armwood recorded 299 yards of total offense to Brandon's 271.
Armwood (2-5) dominated the clock by keeping its offense on the field for more than 30 minutes.
The difference was a missed extra-point kick in the third quarter.
Brandon scored twice in the first 16 minutes. Javan Ferguson scored first for the Eagles on a 39-yard reception from Jason Ryan. George Goff returned an interception 20 yards for Brandon's second touchdown.
Les Thompson made both extra-point kicks.
Albert Turner scored first for Armwood on a 17-yard reception from Ricardo Watson late in the second quarter. Daniel Mitchell scored the second touchdown in the third quarter on a 1-yard plunge. Greg Hopkins made only one extra-point kick.
Hopkins tried a 56-yard field goal as the clock ran out, but the attempt fell a few feet short.
"We felt that we could run on them and we did, but we got too many penalties in the first half and let them ahead too soon to come back," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "We pulled the stops in the final minutes hoping to catch them off guard and we did, but not enough to score."
Brandon head coach Larry Bass was pleased with the win and hoped it would give his young team a boost.
"Having a 1-5 record before this game has taken its toll on this team," Bass said. "It puts doubts in their minds. But tonight helps. These kids never quit."_ TERRY JONES
Robinson quarterback Lorenzo Bradshaw hit Derryl Williams for two touchdowns and rushed 35 yards for a third to lead Robinson in Friday's 46-24 win over host Hudson.
Robinson coach David Grantham was pleased with his team's win, the Knights' first in six game.
"The offensive line played great," Grantham said. "All our kids did well, but I'm real pleased with the offensive line. We've had some injuries to the line, and we only have one injured starter back so far.
"Hudson's a good football team. They don't have a lot of kids this year, but they're a strong team. We just did things well tonight. Tonight we didn't beat ourselves _ Hudson had to beat us to win. We're definitely improving."
Robinson kicker Derrek Scott delivered field goals of 36 and 44 yards and hit four extra points. Scoring on touchdown runs for Robinson were Corey Simpson (24 yards), Courtney Brown (11) and Tommy Phelps (9).
Hudson quarterback Bobby Fox was injured with 2:42 remaining in the game. He was transported to the hospital after a hard hit to the back late in the game. Fox is expected to be back in a couple of weeks.
Hudson led the Knights only once, 8-6 at the end of the first quarter.
A fumble by Fox set up a Robinson field goal at the 5:40 mark.
The Cobras punted away their next possession and watched Williams tuck in a perfect throw from Bradshaw on the second play for a 78-yard touchdown reception at 2:38.
The Cobras responded with a 63-yard touchdown pass by Fox to close the gap, but Robinson used their next possession to drive 61 yards in four plays, culminating in a 12-yard Bradshaw-Williams touchdown completion for a 23-16 at the half.
It was all Robinson from there.
Robinson received the kickoff and drove into Cobra territory, where Scott posted three points for the Knights.
Then Robinson's Don Smith intercepted Fox to set up Simpson's touchdown. Fox then threw incomplete on a fake-punt attempt on fourth-and-27 from his 30 to set up Brown's touchdown.
On Hudson next punt attempt, the snap sailed over Troy Quinlan at the 11. Four plays later, Robinson backup quarterback Tommy Phelps scored from 9 yards out.
Hudson backup quarterback David Billingsley scored a 5-yard touchdown for the Cobras on the play following Fox's injury.
_ RICK GERSHMAN