All he had to do was tiptoe into the end zone. Catching the 37-yard pass, alone on the left corner of the 1-yard line seemed a given.
But Pinellas Park's Kenya Washington let Steve Heatly's pass drop through his hands in the first quarter and the Patriots were unable to tie Dixie Hollins at seven.
It was an early example of how the winless Patriots (0-5, 0-4 in Class 5A, District 8) often squandered their opportunities (and dropped many other passes), while the undefeated Rebels (4-0, 2-0) pounced on them. Dixie Hollins _ bolstered by a fearsome defensive line and a crafty offensive effort by quarterback Frank Shreve _ executed a solid 21-0 district victory over Pinellas Park at Northeast's John M. Sexton field.
Senior running back Terrell Rollins ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns, while Shreve threw for 158 yards and ran a 1-yard keeper for the second touchdown of the game. Joe Cortese kicked all three extra points.
Patriots head coach Thad Starling said Washington's dropped pass was the first downer for his squad. The second _ the clincher _ came in the opening 60-yard drive of the second half. Behind 14-0, quarterback Steve Heatly had directed his squad to the third yard-line. But with fourth and goal, Rebels Dedrick Mitchell and Edwin Bryant smothered Heatly.
"Three points wouldn't have done any good. We needed a touchdown," explained Starling on his decision.
"Our defense _ my front four guys _ did the best job they have all season," said head coach Mark Wiszowaty, who is off to his best start in the four years he has been at Dixie Hollins.
Whereas his defense contained Heatly, a dangerous rusher, to 65 yards and shut down his air attack (1 for 14, 7 yards), the Patriots' defense couldn't stifle Shreve.
Shreve's 20-yard pass to Antron Killens in the opening drive of the game set up the Rebels first touchdown _ a 1-yard run up the middle by Rollins. Dixie Hollins scored again after Shreve's 56-yard rifle to Chad Wagner set up another 1-yard touchdown, with 10:47 left in the second quarter.
And for the third time in the game, the senior's accurate arm iced the six points. A 22-yarder to Nate Bradley off a play action fake brought the Rebels to the 20. After a time out, Shreve floated a 16-yard pass across the field over Reggie Fowler's outside shoulder. Rollins brought it home on a 3-yard run.
"We showed we could have gone down, but we didn't," said Wiszowaty. "It's win and we'll take it."