CLEARWATER - Things looked pretty bleak for the East Lake girls.
On what appeared to be the final play, the Eagles trailed 14-12 as quarterback Nina Brojan heaved a desperation pass. Countryside's Kim Muntges picked it off, and the Cougars celebrated what they thought was the district championship.
They didn't see the flag that was thrown for roughing the passer, and with no time on the clock, East Lake had another chance.
This time, Brojan found Amy Carty in the middle of the end zone to give the Eagles an improbable 18-14 win and a trip to regions starting Tuesday at Orlando Doctor Phillips.
To make things more bizarre, East Lake entered Saturday with a 2-8 record. Its 14-7 upset of Palm Harbor in the morning and Countryside's 7-6 victory over Tarpon Springs set the stage for the finals.
"We went in as underdogs," Eagles coach Scott McLain said. "No one in this county gave us a chance, and we fed off that. We played with heart today. We've just gotten better all year."
East Lake took a 6-0 lead after Brojan hit Whitney Barnwell for a short touchdown pass in the first quarter, but the Cougars responded when quarterback Tarryne Rogers found Joy Vega in the corner of the end zone to tie it.
Countryside wasted a scoring opportunity in the third when Kelly Coghlan intercepted Rogers in the end zone. The Cougars capitalized on their first drive of the fourth when Rogers tossed a quick out pass to Shaontel Booker for a score. A two-point conversion made it 14-6.
THe Eagles charged back with a long touchdown pass from Brojan to Coghlan, but the two-point conversion failed.
"To go from 2-8 to winning the championship shows that we had more heart," McLain said. "It's been an incredible day."District 7: Vikings defense assures win
SEMINOLE - After clobbering heavily favored Clearwater 26-0 earlier in the day, Seminole was riding high heading into the final against Northeast.
The Warhawks could not sustain the momentum, losing 19-12 to the Vikings.
Northeast (13-0) trounced Largo 37-0 in its semifinal.
The Vikings intercepted Seminole five times. Rachael Hibbard had two of them.
"We played tough tonight against a very good Seminole team," Northeast coach Dan Dotter said. "I expected this because no matter who we played this year, we have met the challenge."
The Vikings defense struck early in the first quarter. Warhawks quarterback Cortney Grzetowski was intercepeted by Kim Clark at midfield. Three plays later, Hibbard caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Saye Williams, giving Northeast a 6-0 lead.
Seminole struck back with 9 minutes left in the second quarter. Cindy Cellamare scored on a 6-yard pass from Jackie Fabrizil, tying it at 6.
The Vikings led 12-6 at halftime after Clark's 21-yard touchdown late in the quarter.
Hibbard's second interception set up another Northeast score in the third. Clark's second rushing touchdown from 6 yards out gave the Vikings a 19-6 lead.
The Warhawks scored with 12 seconds left on a 2-yard pass from Fabrizil to Allison Stragel.
"We struggled against their quarterback pitch, but I am still proud of my girls effort tonight," Seminole coach Fran Freyer said.
- CARMINO IMONDILate Friday
BOCA CIEGA - Dixie Hollins went from being winless last season to a District 8 title this year.
The Rebels defeated Lakewood 28-27 in double overtime for their first title. Dixie was trailing by eight in the fourth quarter when quarterback Casey Baker completed a 40-yard pass to Sara Miller for a touchdown. Baker ran in the two-point conversion to send it to overtime.
After trading touchdowns in the first OT, Dixie scored in the second. The Spartans responded with a touchdown, but the Rebels' defense denied the extra point.
The Rebels play Northeast on Tuesday.
- LAURA LEE