For 2 1/2quarters Friday, upset-minded East Lake appeared on the verge of pulling the biggest shocker of the young Pinellas football season.
One play midway through the third quarter, however, turned the complexion of the game in the Eagles' 20-7 loss at Largo.
East Lake entered halftime with momentum and a 7-3 lead, and built on its solid first half by holding Largo on fourth and 2 deep in the Eagles territory on the Packers' opening drive of the second half.
Gaining possession at its own 16, East Lake moved the ball, primarily on the pass-catch combination of Sam Shaffer to Tyler Higbee. Higbee caught slant passes of 17 and 12 yards to set up the Eagles at midfield.
Facing third and 15, East Lake coach Bob Hudson called for a slant and go pattern that had Higbee streaking down the left sideline wide open. The pass from Shaffer, though, slipped out of the quarterback's hand and was underthrown, right into the path of Largo's Myrick Gwyn, who intercepted the ball and ran it back for a touchdown that was called back for a block in the back.
The damage, however, had clearly been done.
On the Packers' next offensive play, Jamar Riley, playing the entire second half after starter Alex Skinner was ineffective in the first, hooked up with Mike Douglas for 27 yards. Three plays later, D.J. Key bullied his way into the end zone from 5 yards out to give Largo a 10-7 lead.
"That play did change the momentum," Gwyn said. "We were messing up in the first half, and the second half we had a good talk with the coach and they told us what to do on the slants. I picked up on it and intercepted it."
Largo held East Lake on the next offensive series, then the Packers made it 13-7 on Charles Howe's 36-yard field goal.
On East Lake's next offensive play, Shaffer was picked off by Jamarious Boatwright, and four plays later, Largo was again in the end zone after Key ran in from 9 yards.
In the second half, Largo threw the ball just three times.
"The ball was wet so we couldn't really pass that much," Gwyn said. "So we had to go down to the running game."