Hillsborough football wins spring football game 14-0

Advancing down the field, #7 Dre-quan McCullough carries the ball supported by teammates Zachary Carter, 54, and Alex Alves, 55.

In a game filled with dropped passes and penalties, the football team scored twice late to beat Wharton 14-0 in the spring game on May 19.

After struggling to find an offensive rhythm in the first of the two quarters played in the Jamboree-style matchup, the Terriers finally found the end zone with 1:32 left on the clock to take the lead. Junior Duran Bell went into motion as the ball was snapped and received the pitch heading full speed towards the sideline. He caught the edge and turned up field, making it impossible for the defense to catch the state 400-meter runner up.

“We let our line develop, started blocking the right people, and then all we [had] to do is score,” said Bell, who used his speed to score on a similar play in the Terriers’ first spring scrimmage.

The offense struggled at first to overcome a slow start. Wharton held the Terriers to two straight four and outs to start the game. On its third possession, however, Hillsborough picked up momentum.

Sophomore quarterback Caleb Youngblood led a drive that spanned 11 plays — including three first downs. Helped by a roughing-the-passer penalty on the defense, Hillsborough kept the ball into the second quarter, when two penalties and two incomplete passes ended the Terriers’ hopes for a score.

Still, the offense had finally found its rhythm.

Freshman quarterback Tyler Thomas started the next drive with a first down run, showing impressive speed and footwork. Sophomore running back Russell Booth followed with a 15-yard run of his own on the next play for another first down.

Thomas completed one of his next two passes, both thrown while scrambling to avoid extreme pressure. “Tyler’s going to be a superstar down the road. Trust me,” said head coach Earl Garcia. “He’s got some growing pains, but three years from now he’s going to be the most highly recruited quarterback in the area.”

Just as the drive began to fizzle, Wharton dropped the punt to give the Terriers a great opportunity with the ball on the 21-yard line. With Youngblood back in at quarterback, the Wildcats defense stepped up to force a sack and three incomplete passes, ending Hillsborough’s drive.
The offense got the ball back quickly, thanks to the Terriers’ defense, and immediately set up Bell’s scoring play.

Hillsborough’s defense was aggressive and dominant from the first snap. Linebacker Armand Chalk set the tone early, putting a huge hit on Wharton’s quarterback on the fifth defensive play of the game. The quarterback’s helmet flew through the air as the crowd reacted to the loud crack. “(Chalk) is our leader,” Garcia told the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s a four-year starter, he’s the team captain and he was the team MVP today.”

The rest of the defense brought the same energy, allowing Wharton only four first downs. The defensive linemen and linebackers were largely successful in shutting down the aggressive running game from Wharton, which attempted to pound the ball both up the middle and around the edge. The Wildcats’ quarterback didn’t throw a single pass until the fourth possession. “They quit running the ball after a while because they gave up,” Garcia said. “We made them pass and we turned it into seven points for us.”

With less than a minute left and the Wildcats attempting to score the tying touchdown, sophomore defensive back Marterrence Holloway intercepted an overthrown pass and returned it all the way to score Hillsborough’s second touchdown. “We scored two times in the last two minutes,” Garcia said. “We thought we would out-condition everybody we played, so that’s a good thing. That’s a testament to our coaches and our players who bought in completely.”

The Terriers hope to use the summer months to clean up the mental and technical errors of the spring scrimmages, looking to bring momentum and a winning attitude into the start of next year’s season.