PINELLAS PARK 28, NORTHEAST 9: The Patriots come out after a lackluster first half and take charge immediately.
By LAURA LEE
Published October 11, 2003
PINELLAS PARK - A much-needed streak of energy darted through the Patriots' field at halftime. Literally. During the Northeast band's second number a young man with a shirt tied over his head sprinted across the field wearing nothing but bright white sneakers.
The prank was enough to make everyone forget a lackluster first half. And perhaps it was just the spark Pinellas Park needed, as it returned to score four touchdowns and beat the Vikings 28-9.
"There was no electricity," Patriots coach Luke Kademoff said about the first two quarters. "Both sides were flat."
The Patriots turned the ball over on downs twice in the first half. The Vikings lost two fumbles, one on the Pinellas Park 10. Neither team scored.
But the Patriots (4-2) looked like a different team in the second half. On Pinellas Park's first play running back Jerrick Slocumb took a handoff from quarterback Adam Cheesebrew. Slocumb cut toward the left sideline, then right, ran backward a few yards, then off to the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown run. Slocumb, who had 140 yards on 13 carries, spent the fourth quarter resting on a milk crate.
The Vikings (3-3) responded with a 25-yard field goal from Samir Tatarevic, but had no answer for the Patriots' offensive line, which continued to open hole after hole for its backs. Pinellas Park had 393 yards rushing.
"We knew they were going to be tired. In the first half they were running sideline to sideline," said Patriot lineman Greg Anderson.
The Patriots were so concerned about helping backs gain yards, they got a 5-yard penalty for pushing running back Brandon Lawson forward 10 yards. Lawson ended the night with 145 yards including an 11-yard touchdown run in the third.
After Josh Pringle scored for Pinellas Park on a 30-yard run with a little more than four minutes to play, the game was pretty much out of reach for the Vikings. It would have been difficult to stage a comeback against a defense that held Northeast to a little more than 100 yards on offense.
Nothing could stop the Patriots, not even themselves. Nintey yards in penalties proved harmless for Pinellas Park.
"They played pretty hard," Northeast coach Jerry Austin said. "We just got banged up."
Kademoff said he didn't have words to describe how important the win was for the Patriots, who had lost two in a row.
"It's been a tough two weeks," Kademoff said. "It's extremely draining, but we've got our confidence back."
Pinellas Park should also have running back Aaron Williams back soon. Williams sat out, resting an injured ankle and is expected to return for next week's district game against East Lake.