TAMPA — Undefeated, state ranked, and coming off impressive wins against Hillsborough, Gaither and Armwood, Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts knows his team will be getting opponents’ best shots. Friday night was no exception as the Titans found themselves down at halftime against always tough Newsome.
But as teams with championship aspirations do, the Titans rallied with a dominant second half to defeat the Wolves, 21-9.
Early on, it looked like Newsome (5-2) might be in for a long night as junior quarterback Xavione Washington connected with freshman Santonyo Isaac on a 47-yard touchdown on the game’s fourth play to give Tech a quick 7-0 advantage.
Newsome answered on its next possession with the Wolves’ bread-and-butter running attack. They ran 13 plays, all on the ground, on a 77-yard scoring drive capped by a 3-yard plunge up the middle by senior workhorse Jason Albritton (20 carries, 102 yards) to cut the lead to 7-6.
Ryan Eckley booted a 22-yard field goal as the second quarter expired, and the Wolves held a two-point advantage at the half.
The Titans came alive in the third quarter, forcing a Newsome punt on the first possession followed by Washington finding Isaac again, this time from 84 yards as the freshman phenom broke away from several defenders. He finished with 139 yards on just three receptions.
“Santonyo is special. He came in this summer, and it took us about three or four days to realize he wasn’t a JV player. He’s been great so far,” Roberts said. “I think it says a lot about him he’s a ninth grader and our starting punt returner. We trust him with the ball in his hands to make plays.”
The Titans (6-0) settled in later in the quarter on a drive that featured a mix of passes by Washington to Iowa St. commit Greg Gaines (seven receptions, 89 yards), and runs from senior back Ronald Sims (14 carries, 101 yards). Washington finished the drive on a 10-yard keeper to cap scoring.
While the offense found it groove, the defense was dominant in the second half, pitching a shutout while getting sacks from senior captain Keyon Clark and freshman Dashaun Bradley, and an interception from freshman Johnnie Tyson.
“The first half was kind of a wake-up call for us. Nobody had really run the ball on us,” Roberts said. “It was something that we weren’t used to. ... We were able to match their numbers and put a stop to it in the second half.”