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Third option propels Gators past Cobras

Michael Torro scores two touchdowns in Land O'Lakes' 29-16 victory against Hudson.

By FRANK PASTOR, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2005

LAND O'LAKES - Senior Evan Keel had been nursing a pulled hamstring, so Land O'Lakes coach John Benedetto was hesitant to use him.

Benedetto was concerned that Lannie Graham didn't have his head in the game after the senior fumbled twice.

So the coach turned to his third option at tailback.

Junior Michael Torro scored his first two varsity touchdowns, and Land O'Lakes twice held Hudson to field goals after turnovers deep in its territory in a 29-16 win Friday. "I really haven't had a chance to show my abilities, and I was glad I got the chance," Torro said. "I did my best, and it worked out."

In a physical game that was everything it was expected, Land O'Lakes (3-0) scored 19 fourth-quarter points to overcome a three-point deficit and gain the inside track for the Sunshine Athletic Conference title. Though two of its players left in ambulances, Hudson (3-1) matched Land O'Lakes hit for hit before finally falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.

"That team is going to win that district championship," Benedetto said. "They're one heck of a team. That's far and away the best team we played this year."

Royce Simonds' 17-yard touchdown reception with 11 seconds remaining gave Hudson a 13-10 halftime lead before Torro runs of 1 and 70 yards put Land O'Lakes up 23-13.

Graham iced the win with a 24-yard interception return with 2:23 to play.

Hudson running back and defensive back Vince Ferlita was taken from the field on a stretcher after being hit in the head early in the second quarter. He was airlifted to St. Joe's, where he was cleared and released, Hudson athletic director Linda McQuade said.

"He's not the biggest kid in the world. But he's got a big heart, and he's one heck of a running back," Benedetto said of the 5-foot-7, 150-pounder. "It bothered me, and I'm happy after talking to the coaches that he's okay."

Hudson lineman/safety Paul James left in an ambulance in the fourth quarter after sustaining a concussion, McQuade said.

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

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