TAMPA - Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia stood before his team during halftime of the Terriers' regional semifinal against Melbourne and crisply told his team precisely what he wanted. He wanted a time-consuming possession like last week when the Terriers ate up nearly the entire fourth quarter in an 18-play, game-clinching drive against East Bay.
Ty Mitchell had other plans.
Mitchell ripped off a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second Terrier drive of the half for the first of his two scores and Jimmy Sapp added 134 yards rushing to lead Hillsborough past the Bulldogs 27-13 on Friday.
"Ty provided a spark for us tonight," Garcia said. "They stopped us three and out on our first possession of the (second) half and I can count the number of times that's happened this year on two hands, but he got things going."
Mitchell took a pitch to his left and cut behind the tackle before running outside and outracing a pair of Bulldogs for a 21-6 lead. Sapp then set up Mitchell's second score on a 36-yard punt return to the Bulldogs' 30. Two plays later, Mitchell scored from 11 yards, dragging three defenders into the end zone.
"They were putting eight and nine guys in the box all night," Sapp said. "But we play smashmouth football and just kept bringing it at them."
Melbourne had a chance to get back in the game midway through the fourth quarter. Trailing 27-13, the Bulldogs returned a punt to the Terriers' 36. But Evan Lang stepped in front of an A.J. Metzger pass to seal the victory. Lang also recovered a fumble with 6:18 left in the third quarter that halted a Melbourne drive at the Terriers' 23.
"The defense stood up tonight," Hillsborough linebacker Stephan Knight said. "I'm a senior and I'm not ready to turn in my pads yet."
Knight made several stops in the Bulldog backfield, but none bigger than on Melbourne's opening possession. A kickoff return to the Terrier 35 gave Melbourne prime field position, but Knight rocked T.J. Clark for a 2-yard loss on fourth and inches.
"That play completely set the tone," Knight said. "They could have gotten confidence by scoring right out of the box, but we made the stop."
Hillsborough scored on its next two possessions to open a 14-0 lead. Sapp broke three tackles on a 40-yard run and quarterback Jarred Fayson punched in the other TD from the 1.