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Packers air it out

Largo proves its versatility by turning to the passing game to down Dixie Hollins.

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Dexter McCluster didn't rush for 200 yards. Didn't break the big run. Didn't dominate the game.

Didn't have to.

With all eyes focused on Largo's senior running back, Largo took to the air instead for its biggest plays Friday, then relied on a stout defense to dominate Dixie Hollins 28-0 in the Class 4A, District 9 opener for both teams.

In a battle of unbeaten teams, Largo (3-0) had the upperhand almost the entire night thanks to quarterback Leonard Johnson, who accounted for three first-half touchdowns, and a defense that held Dixie Hollins to 47 total yards and three first downs, none in the opening half as it jumped to a 22-0 lead.

"We made a few little mistakes out there, but our young quarterback, he really came through," said Largo coach Rick Rodriguez. "And (defensive coordinator) Matt Lepain did a great job with the gameplan."

That plan was executed perfectly - stop the Rebels ground game. With an extra week to prepare, Largo was able to keep the Rebels (2-1) from gaining more than 6 yards on any one carry, while intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble.

The first interception, by Colton Miller, set up the only score the Packers (3-0) would need. Taking over at the Rebel 45, Largo ran McCluster four straight times before Johnson capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge for a 7-0 edge in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Largo put the game out of reach. Johnson hit James Salvatore for a 47-yard touchdown pass on third-and-24, and then found Will Sever from 19 yards out on third-and-11 for another score.

Two plays after his second touchdown pass, Johnson capped his big first half by picking up the Packers second interception.

Largo's defense then held on for the shutout, never letting the Rebels get past midfield in the second half.

"We just practiced hard and played hard," said Largo's Travis Feldman, who was lauded by his coaches for his special teams play.

[Last modified September 17, 2005, 02:15:31]

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