By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000
ZEPHYRHILLS -- As it turned out, John Briscoe had nothing to be nervous about.
Making his first start at quarterback, the Zephyrhills senior threw for three touchdowns and scored a fourth, leading the Bulldogs to a 27-6 preseason win against Springstead on Friday night.
"I was nervous all day. Last night I couldn't sleep much," Briscoe said. "I was waiting for it all day. I couldn't do much during school. My head was focused mostly on tonight's game. I had the jitters, but I worked through them, and it turned out pretty well for us."
Quite an understatement. Briscoe made a convincing debut, throwing for 253 yards and accounting for all 27 Bulldog points. Even when he threw an interception, he turned it into six points.
Briscoe's first pass of the second half was intercepted by Springstead's Jose Flores, who fumbled on his return. The ball popped into Briscoe's hands and he returned the fumble 60 yards for a touchdown.
"I was running up to make a tackle, and all the sudden, out of nowhere, here comes the ball right into my hands," said Briscoe, who also kicked three extra points.
Briscoe benefitted from nimble receivers in three long touchdowns -- 30 yards to Michael Moody, 39 yards to Larance Graham and 68 yards to Kenneth McCullough. But he did his own part, going 3-for-3 on third downs on his opening drive.
"He showed real good poise, avoided the pressure real well," Bulldogs coach Tom Fisher said."
Graham's touchdown was the most impressive. The Bulldogs recovered a Flores fumble at midfield with 42 seconds left in the half, and two plays later, Briscoe threw a screen to Graham on the left sideline. Rather than dart out of bounds to stop the clock, Graham instead reversed field, running all the way to the right sideline and following blockers for a 39-yard score with 0:04 remaining to give Zephyrhills a 14-6 halftime lead.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of fundamental things: ball protection and tackling," Eagles coach Bill Vonada said. Springstead got 159 rushing yards from junior Justen Durr.
The Eagles crossed the Bulldog 40 twice, getting a 3-yard touchdown from Flores.