Hillsborough County's top teams rise and fall with the performance of their running backs this season.
Friday night, Hillsborough finally was beaten, this time by Gaither as Terrier back Jamall Anderson's four fumbles were countered by Cowboys' fullback Brian Wyatt's 129 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Temple Heights' Nate Dorsey had an uncharacteristically slow start against Northside Christian. With the score tied 0-0 entering the fourth quarter, Dorsey scored two touchdowns and rushed 21 times for 162 yards. All but 18 of those yards were generated in the second half against the Mustangs.
And Jesuit had two 100-yard rushers in Jesuit's 42-7 romp over Armwood. Zach Powell had 116 yards on 15 carries and scored four touchdowns while Reggie Wilcox finished with 109 yards and a score.
Powell was quick to credit his offensive line, anchored by Pat Browning and Brian McNulty for his four-touchdown performance.
"All through practice this week, the line talked about how we would break out," Powell said. "We just went back to basics and spent a lot of time blocking in practice because we made a lot of mistakes last week (a 24-8 win over Tampa Bay Tech)."
The exception to the rule: Tampa Bay Tech's Malcolm Durant turned in his usual brilliant performance, rushing for 121 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. But the Titans' still fell 21-19 to Lakeland Kathleen. Why?
Could be questionable play calling. After taking a 19-7 lead on Quincy Harris' 2-yard scoring plunge with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, the Titans went for the onside kick _ and botched it.
The result was a 4-yard loss and Kathleen inside Tampa Bay Tech territory. The failed onside kick led to a Kathleen score on an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Desmond Clark.
Then the Titans backed themselves into another corner late in the game. Instead of giving the ball to Durant and letting him run down the clock, the Titans opted to throw the ball, stopping the clock and leaving Tampa Bay Tech with a fourth-and-8 situation.
The Titans faked the punt but were stopped for only a gain of a yard. Clark came back with just seconds left to make the winning play for Kathleen.
To pass or not to pass? King coach Pat O'Brien prefers the pass over the run, but he admits that it has been tough this year running a passing offense with young players on the Lions' offensive line.
"I think we run a pretty sophisticated passing offense and when you make a lot of mistakes, it's really tough to get the offense moving. Plus, we suspended three players on the line for disciplinary reasons so we had to play three freshmen."
The result? A 31-17 loss to Brandon.
"We're going to have to cut down on the mistakes the rest of the year or it will be an even longer season."
What about Bob? Leto coach Alex Albert nicknames all of his players. Sometimes because of their abilities, sometimes because of their behavior on and off the field and sometimes, well, sometimes for no reason at all. Take backup Falcons quarterback Jesse Lowery.
"We had never seen Jesse in football practice before until one day he just walks in and starts practicing with the team. I asked him what his name was and he said, "Just Bob,' " Albert said. "I said, "Just Bob? That's your name?' He said yeah, and it stuck."
Lowery _ sorry, "Bob" _ was one of the differences for Leto in the Falcons' tough 7-6 victory over Chamberlain on the road. Coming in for quarterback Ron Lawrence in the second half, Lowery helped lead the Leto offense to its only score of the night in the third quarter and finished the game with 23 yards on four carries.
He also completed two passes on two attempts, quite an accomplishment on the pass-starved Leto squad. One was an 8-yarder to fullback Ed Miller and the other was a sure score to wideout Fred Hayes for 30 yards, or at least it would have been a sure score, if Chamberlain's Codrin Coney hadn't wrestled the ball away from Hayes on the Chiefs' 5-yard line.