TAMPA — It was a nightmare of an opening half for Hillsborough as the Terriers hosted Class 6A-District 8 foe Chamberlain. Dwayne Lawson’s passes went whizzing by receivers or were flat out dropped. Chamberlain came in poised and with a solid game plan, striking twice in the opening two quarters on trick fourth-down passes to shoot out ahead.
Terriers coach Earl Garcia: “It was an embarrassment.”
The tide turned for the Terriers as Hillsborough’s defense played well, leading to a 99-yard, nine-play touchdown drive in the game’s final four minutes as Lawson led the team down the field, sealing the 22-21 win with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Anthony King.
“We knew what we had to come out and do in the second half,” Lawson said. “There was no talking, we knew what we had to do. That was a big-time drive.”
Chamberlain (4-3, 4-1) did all it could to hold on to its lead as the Chiefs’ offense strung together some methodical drives in the game. Chamberlain took over in the first quarter after forcing a quick three-and-out by the Terriers and went on a 10-play drive that chewed up five minutes before appearing to stall on the 3. The Chiefs set up for a field goal, but instead snapped the ball to quarterback Josh Bennett, who connected for a 3-yard TD pass to Nathaniel Poole. The Chiefs again surprised the Terriers in the second quarter, faking a punt much the same way as Bennett hit a pass to the sideline to DJ Daniels, who went 44 yards to give Chamberlain a two-score lead.
“Our special teams play (in the first half) was atrocious,” Garcia said. “I’d fire our special teams coach if it wasn’t me. There is no one to blame but me on those first two touchdowns.”
The Terriers’ trick play of their own paid off when Lawson lateraled to the far sideline and receiver Junaid James hit Jon Hughes for a 24-yard score. The Terriers went for 2 and cut the lead to six on a pass from King to Azeez Al-Shaair.
The teams traded TDs — a 10-yard Nick McNeal run for the Chiefs; an 8-yard Lawson run for the Terriers.
Chamb. 7 7 7 0 — 21
Hills. 0 0 8 14 — 22
C – Poole 3 pass from Bennett (Shidler kick)
C – Daniels 44 pass from Bennett (Shidler kick)
H – Hughes 24 pass from James (Al-Shaair pass from King)
C – McNeal 10 run (Shidler kick)
H – Lawson 8 run (Dawsey kick)
H – King 16 pass from Lawson (Dawsey kick)