Terriers dig in, finish as champs

Published October 31, 2006

TAMPA - With 1:31 to go in the first round of a three-way playoff between Hillsborough, Freedom and Newsome to determine a district champion and runnerup in Class 4A-11, the Terriers' season looked to be in jeopardy.

Freedom, after recovering a fumble on its 12-yard line to end a 13-play, 60-yard Hillsborough drive, held the ball at the Terriers 7 and needed just a 23-yard field goal to likely keep Hillsborough out of the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

Instead, the field goal was shanked, Hillsborough scored on its first possession of a Kansas tiebreaker after regulation, then held Freedom to four straight incompletions to advance.

"That (game) could have gone either way," Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. "Freedom beat us in the last eight seconds the last time we played. It just exemplifies what our team has done all year - scratching, fighting and never giving up."

In the Kansas tiebreaker, Iziah Wyche ran over the right side on a second-down play to give the Terriers (6-4, 3-1) the lead and Hillsborough's defense held.

Against Newsome for the championship, Hillsborough took over at its 48 with 1:34 left after neither team converted on drives deep into enemy territory. Two plays later, quarterback Eric Fennell found Wyche down the right sideline, who outraced the Wolves' secondary for a 44-yard touchdown to clinch the title.

Hillsborough will host Armwood on Nov. 10 in a region quarterfinal.

Freedom (6-4, 3-1) scored on its first possession against Newsome (6-3, 3-1) on a 41-yard throwback screen pass from Andrew Carr to Louis Bonnet, and the Patriots defense held the Wolves late to earn the district runnerup spot.

Freedom will travel to Winter Haven on Nov. 10.