Dunedin 31, Gibbs 17

By JOHN C. COTEY, High Schools Columnist
Published November 17, 2007

DUNEDIN - In the first half, Darius Bellamy was slowed down, bottled up, unable to break free and limited to just eight carries.

And that's just what his coaching staff did to him.

But in the second half, they set him free, and the result was a huge performance that pushed the Falcons past Gibbs 31-17 in a Class 5A region playoff game.

The prize, desired greatly by both teams, is a second-round meeting with Largo, Pinellas County's best team. While Gibbs won't get to avenge a loss two weeks ago in which they were 2 yards short of a winning TD on the last play, Dunedin will try to avenge a double-overtime loss to the Packers this season.

The Falcons get to host.

"This was big," Bellamy said, "because we wanted the chance to play them again."

Because of Bellamy, they will. The junior running back rushed 28 times for 277 yards, and scored four touchdowns, three in second half as Dunedin (7-4) overcame a 17-7 deficit to win.

"We've had a lot of players hurt, but tonight the offensive line was healthy for the first time in 2-3 weeks," said senior center Zack Benson. "We were able to open some holes. And Darius, he made us look good."

After a Tommy Hains field goal gave Gibbs (6-5) a 10-point lead with 7:22 left in the third quarter, Bellamy carried seven times on each of the Falcons' next two drives and capped both with TDs to make it 21-17.

The Falcon defense did the rest. Linebacker Mike Kumbat intercepted a fourth-quarter pass, the defense stopped Gibbs on fourth down with 2:00 remaining and after Bellamy's 55-yard touchdown run made it 31-17, Jarvis Parson picked off his second pass to seal the win.

Dunedin had four interceptions and recovered two fumbles, and held the Gladiators to 68 yards in the second half.

The Falcons also were able to neutralize Gibbs' dangerous special teams all night long.

Dunedin 31 Gibbs 17