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Lake Gibson dominates early, then hangs on at the end to oust the Wildcats.
By BRYAN BURNS
Published November 19, 2005
TAMPA - Lakeland Lake Gibson turned in a dominating first-quarter performance and held off a late rally to defeat Wharton, 16-14.
Trailing 16-7 in the fourth quarter and with little going its way, Wharton (10-2) finally caught a break when junior defensive lineman Josh Jones blocked a Lake Gibson punt attempt and Nick Helton recovered at the Braves' 12-yard line. Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Joshua Powell found Ryan Dixon in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown completion, cutting Wharton's deficit to two points with 2:53 left in the game.
Wharton held Lake Gibson on the Braves' subsequent drive and got the ball back at its own 34-yard line with 2:16 remaining. However, running back Joel Miller, held to 64 yards on 13 carries, fumbled after catching a screen pass on fourth-and-19 to end any Wildcat hopes.
"We had a hard time moving the ball on the ground, so we had to pass the ball more," Wharton coach David Mitchell said. Lake Gibson (9-3) started its opening drive at the Wharton 30-yard line thanks to a late-hit penalty on Wharton after the Wildcats punted on their opening drive. Four plays later, Braves' running back Isaak Harris ran in from 1 yard out to give Lake Gibson a 6-0 lead.
Lake Gibson added a 27-yard field goal from Ryan South at the end of the first quarter.
In the first quarter, the Braves defense allowed just 2 yards of offense and no first downs to a Wharton offense struggling to find its rhythm.
Wharton got on the board in the second quarter when Miller ran untouched up the middle from 10 yards out. Jones recovered a Harris fumble at midfield on the Braves next drive, but Wharton turned the ball over on downs after advancing to the Lake Gibson 20.
Lake Gibson went ahead 16-7 at halftime after quarterback Breshawn Barnes culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive on a 3-yard quarterback draw.