Football: Armwood 38, Hillsborough 20

Published October 29 2016

SEFFNER — It wasn't supposed to be a shootout.

The Class 6A, District 7 game between Armwood and Hillsborough, featuring two of the best defenses in Tampa Bay, was supposed to be an old-fashioned defensive duel.

But Friday night at Armwood High School, after 48 minutes, both teams had combined for 58 points. The Hawks (8-1, 5-0) won 38-20, crowning them the district champions.

"We were able to move the ball the whole night, which was encouraging," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said.

Armwood tore through Hillsborough's defense, racking up 445 total yards of offense, including 299 rushing yards. Hillsborough (8-1, 4-1) only had 193 yards of total offense.

Armwood drove down the field with no trouble on its first drive. The Hawks simply ran the ball through Hillsborough's heart. A 5-yard gain. Then 16. Twenty-one. Four. Two. It all culminated in a 20-yard pass from Devin Black to Erin Collins. Armwood went for two and converted.

On the kickoff, Duran Bell Jr. caught it at the 30-yard line and did not stop until he crossed the goal line for a 70-yard return. The Terriers didn't convert the two-point conversion. Midway through the first quarter, after Armwood forced Hillsborough three-and-out, the Hawks blocked the Terriers' punt and the ball rolled back to the end zone. Hillsborough recovered, resulting in a safety.

Their first touchdown drive was an assault on the ground. The Hawks' second touchdown drive was an aerial assault. Black slung the ball all across the field. First a 12-yard gain. Then five. Five. Nine. Fourteen. Running back Jerome Ford powered through from 2 yards away for the touchdown.

After Black ran it in from 14 yards midway through the second quarter, Hillsborough needed a score, or the game would be out of reach. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Tyler Thomas scrambled and threw across his body to wide receiver CJ Williams, running down the right seam for a 27-yard touchdown.

On the following kickoff, Ford returned it 92 yards for a touchdown. On Hillsborough's following possession, Thomas hit Caleb Youngblood, down the right seam again, for a 40-yard touchdown.

Both times, the safety was jumping to cover the wrong receiver, leaving the seam wide open.

"We had to show him what he was doing wrong and we were able to get that corrected," Callahan said.

The Hawks added a field goal before halftime and led 35-20.

The second half was more of the defensive battle that had been expected. Armwood scored three points. Hillsborough scored zip.

"We couldn't do much of anything in the second half," Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said.