Six plays inside the 7.
Nothing summed up the frustration _ or the futility _ of the Citrus High football team Friday night more than six offense plays run inside the South Sumter 7-yard-line that netted minus-5 yards and zero points.
South Sumter has shut out Citrus to clinch a district title _ this time 4A-6 _ in each of the last three meetings: 7-0, 15-0 and, now, 20-0. The closer the Hurricanes get to the end zone, the farther away it seems.
And the past became the present on Friday during six plays inside the 7.
They came early in the second quarter, at which point South Sumter led 14-0 on two touchdown passes from Clint Hart to Matt Simmons in the first four minutes of the game.
A Citrus touchdown, even a field goal, would have put an end to the drought and given the Hurricanes a much-needed confidence boost against a bigger and more talented team.
Instead, things unraveled.
On first-and-goal from the 2, a pitch to Brian Turner lost 2 yards when he lost his footing trying to cut up-field. On second-and-goal, a run by Dwight Neil lost 2 yards. On third-and-goal, a pass bounced off the shoulder pads of Cory Williamson in the end zone, but a late-thrown flag for defensive pass interference gave the Hurricanes four more tries from the 3.
Neil gained nothing on first down, Troy Waller threw incomplete on second. On third down, the 'Canes went back to the same pass play that was open three plays earlier. But this time, safety Ladovick Gibson saw it coming.
Gibson stepped in front of the intended receiver and intercepted Waller in the end zone. He returned it to the South Sumter 20, even fumbling it to himself on the way.
Certainly, the second-quarter series was not Citrus' only scoring opportunity. Nor was it the only time the Hurricanes came away empty.
A 30-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter barely got off the ground. A 27-yarder in the third quarter came up 5 yards short. And a fourth and final trip inside the South Sumter 20 ended when Turner threw incomplete through the back of the end zone on fourth-and-3 at the Raiders' 19.
But what better chance to score than six plays inside the 7?