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Delay doesn’t deter Armwood this time around

Waiting out the weather hasn’t always been kind to the Hawks. Friday night, they kept calm during two hours of inactivity, then topped Bloomingale.
Armwood running back Girard Pringle breaks free for several long runs during first-half action against Bloomingdale on Friday night.
Armwood running back Girard Pringle breaks free for several long runs during first-half action against Bloomingdale on Friday night. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]
Published Sep. 3

VALRICO — Armwood and Bloomingdale started on Friday and played into Saturday.

Once Mother Nature had its way, with lightning and rain delaying the game for two hours, six minutes, the Hawks showed up in a big way in the inaugural Burger Bowl with a 28-14 victory.

It was the first victory of the season for Armwood (1-1), and a special one for Hawks coach Evan Davis. The game ended at 12:06 a.m.

“The biggest thing was mentally staying focused on the night,” Davis said. “(The weather delay) was uncontrollable for us. We had a delay for two hours in 2018 (and) we lost to Tampa Bay Tech. Last year at Newsome, we had a two-hour delay and we lost that game.

“It was a point of emphasis for us and our staff that there was going to be (inclement) weather, there was going to be a delay. How can we stay focused so that we didn’t lose a game because we were unfocused?

“We spent 2 1/2 hours on a bus. (The players) came out here at 9 o’clock and were never fazed. (Bloomingdale) is one of the best-coached football teams in our area, and they’re going to put you in situations. Our kids just kept coming.”

Armwood quarterback Murdolph Jones looks for an open man during first-half action.
Armwood quarterback Murdolph Jones looks for an open man during first-half action. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]

The Armwood defense stood out most of the evening, limiting Bloomingdale (0-2) to 190 total yards — including minus-45 on 16 carries. It also recorded a safety, five sacks and allowed only seven first downs. Twice, the Bulls had to give up the ball on downs on incomplete passes into the end zone.

Sophomore running back Girard Pringle Jr. led Armwood’s 229-yard rushing attack with 172 yards on 18 carries. Pringle, who had 130 yards in the first half, left the game with cramps on the first play of the fourth quarter. Olantae Dean, another sophomore, scored two first-half touchdowns (20 and 1 yards), and senior quarterback Murdolph Jones added a 9-yard scoring run and completed 10 of 19 passes for 161 yards.

The Hawks’ special teams contributed as well with senior RJ Stroud scoring on a 38-yard punt return with 4:07 left to give Armwood a 28-7 lead. Stroud also had an apparent 68-yard touchdown return off a free kick in the first half’s closing minute nullified by a holding penalty.

Armwood was flagged 17 times totaling 176 yards, and lost two of three fumbles inside the red zone. The Hawks also blocked a punt and produced several long kickoff returns.

Bloomingdale tied the score at 7 with 7:55 left in the second quarter on a 22-yard pass from senior Charles Coney to junior Jameer Grimsley. But Armwood rattled off 21 unanswered points, beginning with Dean’s 1-yard TD run just under two minutes later.

Freshman Dillon Rose Bailey threw a 35-yard scoring strike to senior Christian Bodnar late in the fourth quarter for Bloomingdale’s final points.

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