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Citrus finds things to work on after classic

The Hurricanes might have answered a couple of questions, but how to put points on the board wasn't one of them in a 14-6 loss to South Sumter.

The annual spring evaluation period is finally over, and like most on this night, Citrus coach Larry Bishop walked away from Friday's spring classic game at South Sumter with good and bad news.

Bishop no doubt will be slightly disappointed with the 14-6 loss to the Raiders, but will surely be buoyed by the performances of several of his players, namely quarterback Sam McLain and tight end Justin Taylor, who led Citrus to its only score.

"We saw a lot of good things tonight," Bishop said. "Coming into this, the score really is irrelevant. We put certain people in certain situations just to see how they react and we saw exactly what we wanted to see. We got the kids on film. They made some mistakes, but we should be able to learn from the mistakes."

The most pressing needs for the Hurricanes this spring were finding replacements for Phil Davis, Citrus' most productive receiver for the last two seasons, and 1,000-yard rusher Brent Mobley. Citrus appears to have remedied at least half of that equation thanks to an aggressive passing attack featuring McLain, Taylor and running back Chris Vihrachoff, who caught a game-high eight passes for 52 yards.

McLain completed 16-of-22 (73 percent) for 155 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions and led Citrus to its score midway through the first quarter, completing a 15-play, 99-yard drive when he found Taylor (four catches, 71 yards) from 28 yards out on fourth-and-8. McLain came through with some key scrambles that kept the drive alive, including a 15-yard run on third-and-7 from the Citrus 45.

"He's staying in the pocket better," Bishop said of McLain, whose mobility, arm-strength and accuracy seemed much improved from the fall. "Instead of trying to take everything to the outside, he's taking it upfield. That's one thing he's really worked on this off-season.

"(Taylor) had a good game offensively and defensively. He runs good routes at tight end. On defense, he has big shoes to fill (departed senior Wes Davis), but he's done a good job so far."

The biggest problem for Citrus was its inability to put points on the board despite driving inside the Raiders 30 on five occasions.

South Sumter, meanwhile, made the most of its few scoring opportunities, taking the lead for good midway through the third quarter when multiple threat Earl Everett connected with wideout Tarence Jackson with a perfect strike from 33 yards.

Everett, who is expected to replace departed senior Clenton Crossley (now at USF) in the fall, also managed 26 yards on two rushing attempts and had a 39-yard pass called back earlier in the drive.

The Raiders completed the scoring when quarterback Joey Thompson hit Brice Summerall on a rollout pass from the Citrus 12, completing a nine-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by runs of 24 and 18 yards, respectively, from LaCory Benjamin and Moises Orona.