By now, Joe Pierce's reputation precedes him to the end zone. Everybody knows he's going to turn his speed into a game-breaking score. The only question is when.
"Watcha' gonna do now?" an offical asked him as they walked onto the field after halftime, with Pierce's Dixie Hollins team leading Clearwater 13-11.
"I got to make something happen," Pierce responded without hesitating.
Eleven minutes later, Pierce turned an interception into a 74-yard touchdown sprint down the left sideline, putting the Rebels up 27-19 and giving them the spiritual lift they needed to defeat the Tornadoes 30-19.
Dixie Hollins (7-1) got the best of Clearwater (6-2) in a game of big plays, beating its non-district foe by the most decisive margin in three years.
"I thought two good football teams played an entertaining game," Bostic said. "It was just frustrating to come up on the short end."
Pierce's heroics weren't the only reason the Rebels triumphed _ this year in regulation. Clearwater's defense dictated that Dixie Hollins quarterback Jason Macon take to the air. And the senior responded with poise, throwing three touchdowns and completing 12 of 18 passes for 167 yards.
The first touchdown was a one-play 35-yard strike to Antwon Lumpkin wide open in the end zone that stunned the Tornadoes in the first quarter. In the second quarter, and his team leading just 6-3, Macon hit Adul Yates at midfield who turned the catch into a 65-yard score.
"I was really surprised they passed that much," Bostic said. "We needed to pressure him a bit more early."
In the third quarter, Macon found Lumpkin's older brother, Deonte on a play-action throw-back to the left corner of the end zone.
Though the Tornadoes never led, they got close. After Deonte Lumpkin's score made it 21-11, Clearwater marched 75 yards in five plays _ 73 of those yards coming from fullback Otis Dixon _ and connected on a two-point pass from Tondrick Robinson to make it 21-19.
Then, when the Tornadoes defense allowed Dixie Hollins just to kick a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to go up 30-19, Clearwater again threatened. But kicker Greg Krauss _ who had made a 51-yard field goal earlier _ missed a 37-yarder wide right with 1:23 remaining.
The Tornadoes' leading rusher, Jermaine Clemons, hurt his thigh and knee in the first quarter and the Rebels held him to a season-low 11 yards. He did catch an 18-yard pass for his 15th touchdown of the year, late in the second quarter.