DIXIE HOLLINS 29, PHU 8: A fumble recovery and an interception return for a TD help compensate for team's missing offensive starters.
By BRUCE LOWITT
Published October 11, 2003
PALM HARBOR - If a team has to do without three of its stars, you figure it's going to be a long night. The team gains 2 yards in the first half and gives up a touchdown seven seconds before halftime, you figure it's going to be a really long night.
So how did visiting Dixie Hollins beat Palm Harbor University 29-8 Friday night?
"We told them all week, "We're putting the pressure on you. We're sitting (quarterback Mike Martin and fullback Dan Puckett), and we need some big plays,"' Rebels coach Mike Morey said.
He got them - a fumble recovery on the PHU 5-yard line that led to backup quarterback Richie Christopher's tying 1-yard touchdown and Derick Schaffer's 15-yard interception return for another. They were sandwiched around a 60-yard touchdown run by Puckett's replacement, Dustin Zitzmann.
"The kids who needed to step up stepped up," Morey said.
They gave Dixie Hollins a 22-8 lead with 6:25 to play. Any hope the Hurricanes had of rallying died when running back Mike Pappas fumbled at the PHU 44, triggering a Rebels drive that resulted in Donnie Grant's 19-yard scoring run with 2:06 to play.
Meanwhile, Stanford Gulley, PHU's star running back, was held to 29 yards on 17 carries.
"We knew they were going to break some plays here and there," Hurricanes coach Mike June said, "but when you throw the ball to them and just hand it to them, there's no excuse for that. The bottom line is if you turn the ball over like we did in the second half, you're going to lose."
PHU's lone touchdown came after Dixie Hollins fumbled 21 seconds before halftime. The Hurricanes took possession at the Rebels 36. Quarterback Mike Kampel gained 9 yards on a run. A 6-yard pass to Alex Gelep got PHU to the 27, and Gelep scored on a 21-yard catch with 7.2 seconds left.
"We came out and we struggled," Morey said. "We figured it was going to be a tight game. They controled the ball the first half, controled field position, but in the second half we got the big plays on defense and controled the play. The interception and forced fumble gave us a short field to work with. ... We didn't do a whole lot on offense but we created the opportunities when we needed them."