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Hillsborough ends surprising run of second-year Sumner

Alonzo Ashwood, an assistant at Hillsborough for a dozen years, can’t find an answer for the Terriers’ tough second-half defense.
Hillsborough beats second-year program Sumner 28-7 on Friday night in a Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal.
Hillsborough beats second-year program Sumner 28-7 on Friday night in a Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 20

RIVERVIEW — The dream season for Hillsborough County’s newest school came to an end at the hands of its oldest as Hillsborough used a pair of big runs and a strong defensive effort to defeat second-year Sumner 28-7 on Friday night in a Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal.

The Terriers got on the board on the second play of the game when Colorado State commit Joseph Sipp Jr. got loose and outraced the Stingrays defense on a 69-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.

Sumner (9-3), led by longtime Hillsborough assistant Alonzo Ashwood, settled down on defense and eventually broke through on offense as sophomore quarterback Greg Smith called his own number and bulled in from 5 yards out to knot the score at 7 in the second quarter.

Hillsborough answered immediately with another big touchdown run, this one 54 yards from sophomore Jacquez Gibson.

“We gave the analogy to our kids before the game that this was little brother challenging big brother, and they are going to get their licks in,” said Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. “We told them when that happened, we would have to counter hard.”

Later in the quarter, a mishandled snap on a Sumner punt attempt set the Terriers up at the 12-yard line. On the next play it was Sipp Jr. (five carries, 90 yards) scoring for the second time to give Hillsborough a two-score lead going into halftime.

In the second half, it was time for the Big Red defense to shine. The Stingray running attack had little luck, as the Terriers harassed Smith all night. Keshawn Davila and Sipp racked up sacks, while Patrick Mooney led the secondary, snagging an interception.

“Darrell Meckley is our third-year defensive coordinator. He wasn’t a salutatorian at Hillsborough High for nothing. He’s a very bright guy who dials up some cool stuff,” said Garcia. “We’ve been really good all year on defense.”

Sumner’s punting woes continued in the fourth quarter as senior Laterrian Hicks recovered a blocked punt and returned it to the 5-yard line. Sipp capped scoring on the next play.

While the Terriers are headed for a rematch with Jesuit next week (the Tigers won 28-7 on Sept. 17), Garcia offered praise for the job Ashwood has done in a short period of time

“I’m very proud of Coash Ashwood,” Garcia said. “He was with me for 12 years. I don’t know if the average person knows how hard it is to take a team to the state playoffs in a school’s second year. They were district champions and put up a heck of a fight for four quarters.”