TAMPA — Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III wanted to play. He shook off his week-long bout with strep throat long enough to practice Wednesday. But Sickles' top offensive threat was too weak and too sick by game time, needing a hospital visit as a precaution. Sickles did fine anyway, taking a first-quarter double-digit lead and overcoming penalties and a sloppy second half to take the lead in the Class 7A, District 7 race. Sickles is 4-1 (2-0 in league play); Freedom is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the district.
Key drives: Sickles drove 80 yards in six plays and scored on a 6-yard pass from Isaac Holder to Trey Fullwood to take a quick lead. Moments later, the two would hook up again on a 9-yard scoring pass to extend the lead to 13-0.
Play of the game: Leading 13-3 and set to go into the half, Holder's long pass bounced off a defender's hands to receiver Jeff Ysma, who scored.
Stars of the game: Holder was 11-for-15 passing for 177 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 33 yards. Fullwood caught six passes for 112 yards and two scores. Freedom's touchdown came late in the third quarter when Aaron Cox returned a kickoff 90 yards.
Stat of the game: Sickles outgained Freedom 295-195, but the Gryphons had 17 penalties for 108 yards.
Rod Gipson, Times correspondent