GIBSONTON — There were lots of mistakes, and follies and questionable calls, but East Bay's football team just kept plugging away in Friday's pivotal Class 7A-District 8 game against Plant City (4-1, 1-1).
Then, in overtime, from the 24-yard line, the Indians finally put an end to it.
East Bay quarterback Chris Carpentier pedaled back under a heavy rush and zipped a pass to Anton Crutcher, who caught it just behind a linebacker, faked out another defender, broke a tackle and dashed into the end zone.
Game over: East Bay 19, Plant City 13.
The Indians (4-2, 1-0) leaped and yelled and hugged like they had just won the state title.
Plant City quarterback Landon Galloway grimaced after a night of frustration, none more crushing than the moment he lost a fumble on the 1-yard line while trying to plow over for a touchdown in the first possession of overtime.
“I can't fault him for the effort,” Plant City coach Wayne Ward said. “He was trying to make a play.”
Ward went on to say that he felt East Bay simply, “wanted the game more than we did tonight.”
In particular, Ward referred to the opening drive of the third quarter in which East Bay, which trailed 13-0 at halftime, marched 71 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown.
Perhaps the most disturbing part was that many of the runs were straight-ahead bull rushes by Chris Greene, who had nine carries on the drive, including the final one for 5 yards and the touchdown.
No matter how Plant City stacked the box, including using 6-foot-4, 330-pound offensive lineman Montel McBride on the defensive front, the Raiders couldn't stop the Indians after halftime.
“We call it feeding the beast,” East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said of Greene, who finished with a game-high 21 carries for 119 yards, including another touchdown run of 4 yards. “We know we can go to (Greene) and he'll get it done.”
In the end, the victory was sweet redemption for LaRosa, who with 11 seconds left in the game and the ball on the 1-yard line chose to throw a pass instead of going for a field goal.
The pass was intercepted, sending the game into overtime.
“I was concerned about our protection because we've had a lot of problems with it,” LaRosa said. “To be honest with you I wasn't surprised by anything that happened because we've had crazy things happen all year.''
Plant City 7 6 0 0 0 — 13
East Bay 0 0 7 6 6 — 19
Galloway 7 run (Hoyle kick)
PC - Bailey 4 run (kick failed)
EB - Greene 5 run (Morgan kick)
EB - Greene 4 run (kick failed)
EB - Crutcher 24 pass from Carpentier