TAMPA — Armwood dominated both sides of the ball in the second half Friday night to pick up the 22-19 victory at Gaither.
The Hawks (2-1) faced a 19-6 deficit at the break but shut out the home team 16-0 in the second half.
Momentum was on Armwood’s side over the final 24 minutes. The Hawks defense made life brutal for Gaither, forcing two punts, one interception and a safety on its four possessions. The Cowboys (2-1) recorded just one first down in the second half, which came on the final play of the game.
“We are going to enjoy it tonight. Coach (Kirk) Karsen and his staff do a phenomenal job,” Armwood coach Evan Davis said. “We just keep battling. We came in here tonight and got a victory.”
After going three and out to open the third quarter, Armwood took advantage of a short field on a muffed punt.
Junior quarterback Murdolph Jones found sophomore Malik Brown for a 4-yard strike on fourth and goal to cut the deficit to six at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter.
Just over seven minutes later, Armwood put together a 12-play drive that was capped by another Brown touchdown reception from Jones.
Jones totaled three touchdown passes, which also included a 42-yard bomb to junior wideout Kaiime Ivey on a third and 22 midway through the first quarter.
The lone two points of the fourth quarter came on a sack and safety from junior defensive end Kenny Dantzler. Gaither opted to go for it despite being back up in its own end zone with 2:16 left.
Dantzler also had a sack and forced fumble late in the first quarter.
For Gaither, sophomore quarterback Brooks Bentley had two touchdown passes. The first came on the opening drive of the game on a 15-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jonah Driggers on fourth and 7.
Then early in the second quarter, sophomore Eugene Wilson took a short Bentley pass 41 yards before Bentley punched it on a 1-yard run to put his side ahead 13-6. On the very next play, senior cornerback Mikhai Campbell jumped the route and took back a 35-yard pick-six.
But it was Armwood who got the last punch in this fight.
“We were down 13 points at the half,” Davis said. “Our guys let passion out and let each other know we got this. It wasn’t all fun and hugging. They held each other accountable and we fought.”
Davis was passionate during his postgame speech. After losing with 90 seconds last week against Hillsborough, he sent the message that the Hawks are not going to lose back-to-back games.
“We needed this as a program and as a team for our confidence,” Davis said. “Last year, we had four losses, three out of those four losses were one-possession games. Tonight we came out ahead in a one-possession game.”