CLEARWATER — The offense ran fluidly for Countryside early in its Class 6A region quarterfinal against Pasco. Then Cougars quarterback Gabe Olds went down with an apparent shoulder injury, and it looked like Countryside’s chances of moving on to the region semifinals might slip away.
It took some quick adjustments, but Countryside was able to overcome a loss not many teams can withstand in the playoffs. Garrett Rodriguez stepped in and ran the offense smoothly, helping guide Countryside to a dominant 38-15 victory Friday night.
Countryside moves on to face either Clearwater or Gaither, who play tonight.
“Gabe means so much for everything he does for our team,” Countryside coach Eric Schmitz said. “We had to adjust quickly with Gabe going down. Garrett Rodriguez came in, and I thought he did a tremendous job stepping up for us. He was able to drive the ball downfield and do some good things for us.”
It looked like Olds would have a huge day passing, as the senior went 3-for-3 for 52 yards and a touchdown to Terrance Jackson on the Cougars’ first possession.
Pasco answered with a 3-yard EJ Redfield touchdown run and went up 8-7.
Countryside (8-3) briefly went ahead 10-8, then Pasco (5-6) regained the lead at 15-10 right before halftime when Malcolm Gibbs punched in a 6-yard scoring run.
Big plays by Countryside, however, thwarted any thoughts Pasco might have had about moving on to its first region semifinal since 2012. On one, the Cougars faced second and 41 after several unsportsmanlike penalties, and Rodriguez delivered with a 44-yard completion to Jackson.
The real dagger for Pasco came early in the fourth quarter. With Countryside ahead 17-15, Jackson broke free untouched up the right sideline for 71 yards and a touchdown. That gave the Cougars a commanding 24-15 advantage. That’s all the Cougars defense needed, scoring 13 points on turnovers.