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Armwood gets the edge in turnover-plagued matchup

The Hawks and Bloomingdale both have trouble holding on to the ball, but defense again is key for Armwood.

SEFFNER — It certainly wasn’t what Armwood envisioned, but a win is a win.

In Friday night’s Class 7A, Region 2 semifinal, the Hawks (11-1) fended off a scrappy and focused Bloomingdale squad 20-9 to move into next week’s region final. Armwood will now host defending state champ Lakeland (12-0), which won 37-30 over Tampa Bay Tech.

Leading Bloomingdale 14-3, the third quarter saw a plethora of turnovers hurt both teams.

Six of 11 drives in the third quarter ended in a turnover, including two separate sequences with three straight miscues. In total, there were four interceptions and two fumble recoveries between the two sides.

Bloomingdale (9-3) took advantage of one of the key turnovers, a fumble recovery as senior quarterback Lance Alderson punched in a 1-yard touchdown run. That trimmed the deficit to five points at 14-9 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

On the very next offensive play, Armwood senior quarterback Hunter Helton found junior wide receiver Agiye Hall wide open down the middle of the field. He turned on the jets and broke away for a 65-yard touchdown to put his side up 20-9 with 3:45 left in the third quarter.

That proved to be enough as the fourth quarter was filled with runs and punts. Bloomingdale did have a red-zone drive with under six minutes left, but turned the ball over on downs.

The Hawks previously beat Bloomingdale on the road back in the third week of the season, 28-0.

“It is hard to beat a team twice. That is a good football team,” Armwood coach Evan Davis said. “They are well coached and they executed well. Hopefully, we can be ready to go now. We won this game and that’s what we wanted. Now we just have to work from there.”

This marks the eighth straight season with a playoff appearance for Armwood. The Hawks have posted a 100-14 record dating to 2012 with five state runnerup finishes. That includes two in a row. The program is 38-4 under coach Evan Davis since he took over in 2017.

This game was scoreless until the 1:37 mark of the first quarter when senior cornerback De'kwan Hughes picked off an overthrown ball and took it back 63 yards for a touchdown.

In total, the Armwood defense combined for five interceptions, including two from Hughes and three from junior cornerback Noah Bigelow. Hughes had one of the three interceptions in the third quarter alone while Bigelow hauled in the other two. He now has five interceptions over the past two games.

On top of that, juniors Desmond Watson and Malcolm Hope each had a sack.

“Our whole defense played great,” Davis said. “I don’t know how many turnovers we had offensively, but it felt like 30. The defense never breaks. They continue to hold their backs and execute.”

Bloomingdale didn’t have much success offensively, but the Bulls did see junior athlete Jayden Segarra put up a nice evening with 91 receiving yards.

Senior cornerback AJ Moss and junior linebacker Wa'myron Howard each had an interception for Bloomingdale while the defense combined for three fumble recoveries.

As for Armwood’s offense, the Hawks switched to Helton in the second quarter, but used junior quarterback Cam’Ron Ransom on a few more drives in the game. They both each had a touchdown pass, but combined for three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble).

Ransom delivered a perfect throw to junior wideout Charles Montgomery for a 16-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

Davis said he will watch and film and decide what he wants to do with his quarterback situation.

As for the next test, Armwood is excited for what lies ahead against a powerhouse Lakeland program.

“Maybe this is the classic case of two programs overlooking their opponents and looking at each other. We are both fortunate enough to come out with wins,” Davis said. “We will watch film on them. I’m worried about us. We always believed that if we take care of the guy in the mirror that wins will happen.”

Region finals

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

Class 2A, Region 3

• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 3 Seffner Christian

Class 3A, Region 3

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Fort Myers Bishop Verot

Class 4A, Region 3

• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Lakewood

Class 5A, Region 3

• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Lake Wales

Class 6A, Region 2

• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 1 Gaither

Class 7A, Region 2

• No. 2 Lakeland at No. 1 Armwood

Class 8A, Region 2

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Kissimmee Osceola