SPRING HILL — Fivay's strength offensively this year has been the ability to throw the ball and keep defenses off balance while averaging close to 32 points per game.
But that wasn't the case Friday against Springstead's defense.
The Eagles (4-2, 2-0) held down the potent Falcons (2-3, 0-1) in their Class 6A, District 6 contest at Booster Stadium.
Key drive: Deciding to receive the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss, Fivay took the ball and marched down the field with relative ease until getting near the red zone. With the rain pouring, the offense was faced with fourth down and 6. Springstead linebacker Conor Ross bottled up Fivay tailback Christian Coleman (21 carries, 69 yards, one touchdown), stopping the drive just as the referees called for a lightning delay.
Play of the game: After Coleman 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Springstead was set to take over up only 9-7. Kick returner T.J. Owens answered the bell with a 90-yard touchdown return. Though Brian Rae missed his second extra point to go with a missed field goal, the 15-7 advantage was plenty for the stellar Eagle defense.
Stars of the game: As poorly as Rae kicked, his play in the defensive secondary was strong. He intercepted Fivay quarterback Cyler Doran twice. The picks were Rae's third and fourth of the season. Doran (2-of-17, 16 yards) was intercepted three times total, matching his numbers from the first four games combined. Springstead running back Daniel Wright continued his workhorse style, toting the ball 31 times for 178 yards and a touchdown. He also added an 8-yard reception from his younger brother, quarterback Jordan Wright.
Stat(s) of the game: The quarterback position has been in flux since star Tyler Mahla graduated over the summer. Starting only his fourth game, Jordan Wright looked the most confident he has all season. He became a threat on the ground for the option attack, rushing 13 times for 64 yards. He also went 2-of-4 for 23 yards passing, keeping the defense honest. Despite that leap, Springstead only scored one offensive touchdown, thanks in large part to 10 penalties for 85 yards.
Final word: "We have never had this many penalties since I've been here, maybe last year (in our loss) at Citrus. That's yards you're just giving away. You just can't have it." — Springstead coach Mike Garofano
Derek J. LaRiviere, Times correspondent