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Preps

Eagles can't stop 'offensive machine'

Lake Gibson scores four times on four first-half possessions, denying Springstead a berth

By JOHN SCHWARB
Published November 20, 2004

in the Class 4A region final.

SPRING HILL - Springstead made history by simply being in this game. But Lakeland Lake Gibson makes these games look routine.

Behind four scores on four first-half possessions, Lake Gibson took a commanding early lead and held on for a 39-21 win over Springstead in a Class 4A region semifinal. The Braves, state runners-up last season, advanced to the region final for the fifth consecutive year.

From the start, they were in control. Quarterback Matt Grothe, a South Florida recruit, coolly led the team 64 yards down the field in 10 plays after the opening kickoff, completing three passes for 28 yards and rushing for 30 on the drive. On a third-and-10 from the Eagles' 24-yard line, he evaded a sack and dashed 12 yards for a first down.

Two plays later, Grothe found Roger Frazier on a slant from the left to put Lake Gibson (11-1) up 7-0. The Braves' second drive led to a 22-yard Jacob Bloodworth field goal, then the third drive found the end zone off an 8-yard run from Isaac Harris.

"They're a very powerful offensive machine; we knew that," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said. "We had them once or twice, we just let them out of the bag when we were on defense."

The Eagles' lone turnover ended up costly. Running back Quinden Floyd fumbled in Springstead territory while trying to break a run outside, and Lake Gibson recovered at the 35. Seven plays later, Harris had his second touchdown, from 4 yards out, and the Braves went up 22-0.

Springstead (8-3) appeared to be on the board just before halftime on a 56-yard bomb from Ian Wald to Floyd, but the play was erased on a holding call at the line. Still, the Eagles came out of halftime with moxie, driving 74 yards to make it 22-7. Wald scored the touchdown on a 3-yard run.

But Lake Gibson was too strong, coming back 5 minutes later with a big strike from Grothe to Frazier on a slant across the middle. It was a 56-yard touchdown, with Frazier doing much of the work.

Grothe scored on a 22-yard option keeper on the next possession to make it 36-7. He finished the night with 128 yards rushing on 12 attempts and 165 yards passing (12 of 16).

"He can run the ball, he can throw the ball, he did his assignments. ... That's why he's going to USF," Eagles linebacker Nick Belavilas said.

Springstead, playing in its first region semifinal, never got its option offense clicking as it had at Belleview one week prior. The Eagles amassed 331 yards on the ground there but had 204 against Lake Gibson, including 78 in the first half. Wald was a bright spot with 119 on 23 carries.

"I don't think it was a case of us not showing up to play," Vonada said. It was a case of us playing a good football team and we needed to play our best. It wasn't any one thing. (Lake Gibson's) too good of a football team."

[Last modified November 20, 2004, 01:05:22]


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