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Hillsborough’s defense is on point, but offense can’t capitalize

The Terriers, who have been stellar in the second half of the season, force turnovers but don’t turn them into points.
The region quarterfinals started Friday night for teams around Tampa Bay. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Nov. 9
Updated Nov. 9

TAMPA — After two early losses this year against Tampa Bay Tech and Steinbrenner, Hillsborough worked hard to turn things around with a six-game winning streak that included four shutouts to end the regular season.

The momentum of those regular-season successes for the Terriers did not, however, carry into Friday’s playoff opener as Port Charlotte (10-1) defeated Hillsborough (8-3) 21-6 in a Class 6A, Region 3 quarterfinal.

Port Charlotte broke the 0-0 tie on a second-quarter touchdown run by Ja’Nyrein Washington. The Pirates drew Hillsborough offsides on a fourth-down play and took a 7-0 lead. Hillsborough had plenty of chances as the defense recovered four fumbles, of which only one resulted in their lone touchdown.

“Our defense played a heck of a second half but we didn’t get it done offensively,” coach Earl Garcia said. “We just couldn’t capitalize offensively.”

Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, a fumble recovered by Jaiden Headen set up Hillsborough’s score. Terriers quarterback Caleb Pierce tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Herman James, but Port Charlotte blocked the extra point to maintain a 7-6 lead.

The Pirates then came back with their own touchdown, a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by Bo Guy’s 10-yard run. The game was still within reach for Hillsborough in the third quarter when the Terriers recovered a fumble at the Pirates’ 37-yard line, but Hillsborough punted after three downs.

On the next drive, the Pirates extended their lead when quarterback Logan Rogers found Solomon Luther for a 44-yard touchdown pass.

The Terriers, held to their lowest point total of the season, drove to Port Charlotte’s 47-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The Pirates batted Pierce’s pass incomplete to end the drive and preserve the lead.

"You can't go out in the state playoffs and get shut out in the second half," Garcia said. "They took our inside running game from us and they controlled the line of scrimmage."

With its seventh straight win, Port Charlotte advances to a semifinal against district foe Palmetto, which beat Braden River Friday, 24-21.

Region football semifinals

All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

Class 2A, Region 3

• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 2 Northside Christian

• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 1 Cambridge Christian

Class 3A, Region 3

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 1 Berkeley Prep

Class 4A, Region 3

• No. 4 Clewiston at No. 1 Lakewood

• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 2 Delray Beach American Heritage

Class 5A, Region 3

• No. 8 Chamberlain at No. 4 Jesuit

Class 5A, Region 2

• No. 4 Nature Coast at No. 1 Orlando Jones

Class 6A, Region 2

• No. 5 Clearwater at No. 1 Gaither

• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 2 Largo

Class 7A, Region 3

• No. 3 Manatee at No. 2 Mitchell

Class 7A, Region 2

• No. 5 Bloomingdale at No. 1 Armwood

• No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech at No. 2 Lakeland

Class 8A, Region 2

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview


  1. Tre'von Riggins, a University of Miami commit, has been a force for the Lakewood defense since he transferred from IMG Academy. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Duke Energy Boys” have helped drive an unbeaten season, not giving up a touchdown in seven games.
  2. Mitchell quarterback Ezra Brennan has already surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    The learning curve isn’t too steep for the first-year Mustangs starter, whose unflappable nature can be traced to the other sport he excels in — baseball.
  3. Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor of Plant High makes a move around Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on Nov. 2  in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 34-3. DOUG MCSCHOOLER  |  AP
    Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota have become feel-good stories in college football this season, with coaches and players who have roots locally.
  4. Clearwater Central Catholic's Zac Elam says that one of the offensive line's strengths is that "we’re really close as a group." DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    While often inconspicuous, the Marauders’ offensive line knows its value this season.
  5. Nature Coast's Dedric Hall does a little bit of everything for the Sharks, which is why they're in the second round of the playoffs. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The junior can burn you in the running game. He’s nifty in the passing game. And if you’re not careful, he’ll pick off your quarterback, too.
  6. Admiral Farragut's Martel Mott takes off after intercepting a pass by Cambridge Christian's Titan Williamson during the teams' Sept. 13 regular-season matchup. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    One thing is certain in the playoffs under the new format: rematches from the regular season.
  7. Not only is Riverview's Alyssa Hendrix a two-times state champ in cross country, but her latest title follows two earlier this year in state track. Hendrix, pictured here from the spring, won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter titles in May. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The final tally: Two individual champs, three team champs and a host of individual medalists.
  8. Clearwater Central Catholic’s Jordan Niles, right, hugs Calvary Christian’s Richie Ilarraza after the Marauders’ playoff win. Niles is a former Calvary player. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Sunday Morning QB: Clearwater Central Catholic, Steinbrenner and Chamberlain are just a few of the standouts in the region quarterfinals.
  9. Plant senior Birdie Frierson, here in a match earlier this postseason, says on Saturday the Panthers "were just a little bit off. The serves were just a little bit off. The sets were just a little bit off. Nothing felt like ‘This is it. This is our point.’ It was that kind of day.” SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Both Tampa teams sustain road losses in the state semifinals.
  10. The region quarterfinals started Friday night for teams around Tampa Bay. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Packers, missing a few playmakers while a few more take their lumps Friday, shut out Countryside.