TAMPA — The stakes couldn’t have been higher Friday night.
Armwood and Jefferson, two undefeated teams, ranked third and fourth in a state poll, were battling for a district title and homefield advantage through the playoffs.
Armwood was able to capitalize on Jefferson’s mistakes in the second half to run away with a 28-9 victory.
The win most likely seals the district title for Armwood, which has wins against Hillsborough, Jefferson and Robinson.
Armwood (5-0, 4-0) overcame a sluggish first half in which it had nine penalties for 90 yards and two first downs.
“It was a big game, the first real big game we’ve been tested with adversity, and hopefully we’ll learn from it,” Armwood coach Sean Callahan said.
The Hawks’ saving grace was senior receiver Talvin Bailey, who turned a 10-yard pass into a 45-yard touchdown with 49 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Jefferson’s lead to 9-7. On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Bailey split the field for a 95-yard return, giving the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
“Coach Callahan always said ‘live in the wedge’, and that’s what I did,” Bailey said of the return. “I followed behind my boys, and when they popped it, they made a hole and I got the touchdown.”
Armwood’s defense collected two sacks and an interception on quarterback Deiondre Porter, who entered the game as the county’s leader in all-purpose yards. Porter finished with 111 rushing yards on 19 carries and was 12 of 29 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown. Many of Porter’s incompletions were dropped deep passes, including one in the end zone.
“We’ve been 65 percent, or close to, on deep balls so far this year,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle said. “We pride ourselves on that, and we’ve had, statistically, less than six penalties in every game and all of the sudden tonight we turn into the most undisciplined team ever.”
Jefferson committed three penalties in the first half, but had six in the second half.
Armwood 0 7 14 7 — 28
Jefferson 3 6 0 0 — 9
J — FG Pena 29
J — Pownell 21 pass from Porter (run failed)
A — Bailey 45 pass from Johnson (Hoffrichter kick)
A — Bailey 95 kick return (Hoffrichter kick)
A — Newton 6 run (Hoffrichter kick)
A — Carrington 1 run (Hoffrichter kick)