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October 20, 2013

Pugh's View: Adjustments led to Largo win

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Largo's 22-21 defeat of Venice to win District 6A-7 wasn't just important. Tough to argue with a man of Rick Rodriguez' qualifications and if he's going to call this the greatest comeback he's ever been a part of in his career, I'll won't put up a debate; but if you were there to witness it, this was about his coordinators as it was his players and their execution.

Compared to how they ended, things didn't start well for Largo, as Venice took the opening drive on the legs of Indians RB Terry Polk, with the Sr. capping a 13 play, 69 yard drive that consumed over six minutes of the opening frame. Polk's 147 yards on 23 carries and 2 TD's were to be expected by the Largo Defensive Staff, while Largo's Offense remained sluggish at best only running a total of 19 plays on four possessions totaling 43 yards in the first half along with two turnovers, the Venice Offense was moving the ball at will with 163 yards on 31 plays; with one drawback. .

Four of Venice's six possessions ended on either missed FG's or fumbles inside the Packers Red Zone. .

The clock hit zeroes, and time for the Packers Staff to adjust. Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Frioud and Offensive Coordinator Ryan Taylor set their new course and when the Packers started back, a 12-play, 86yd drive tying the game at 7 feeling like they had received just what the Dr. had prescribed; while the dominating force that was Terry Polk was now being swarmed by eight and nine Largo Defenders in the box.

Meanwhile, Taylor's adjustments got Donavan Hale passing for more yards in the 3rd Quarter than total offense gained by the Packers in the first two quarters, and Jarvis Stewart was grinding (literally at times with multiple defenders in the backfield to start) his way to 29 yards on 8 carries, but the message was clear that there was something starting to click. With 52 seconds left in the 3rd, it appeared that Largo would get the ball back after yet another forced three and out. Venice ran only 13 plays in the second half to Largo's 55 still managing to score 14 points, and doing so in less than 30 seconds.

The first TD occurred when Raheem Harvey was switching fields on a punt return and LB Bobby Chisholm was Johnny-on-the-spot grabbing the punched ball out of the air and returning it for a 30yd TD to put Venice up 14-7 with 52 seconds remaining in the 3rd Quarter. After driving to the Venice 40 in quick response, the Packers turned the ball over on downs. That's when Terry Polk decided to show his BCS caliber flashes and took it to the house for 60 yards and a rather perplexing and seemingly insurmountable lead at 21-7 with just over 8 minutes to play in the game.

Without even acting as if they were bothered in the least, QB Donavan Hale started finding his chemistry with Jr. WR Jonathan Crawford and Jr. Reggie Campbell. Crawford finished the game with 7 receptions for 90 yards while Campbell caught four passes for 69 yards and the all-important last pass of the game for the touchdown. A 14-play, 83 yard drive that took just over three minutes brought the Packers back to within striking distance at 21-14 with 5 minutes to play.

With just about 7 seconds left on the clock, it's trips right for the Packers, Hale rolling to his right and throwing to the back pylon of the end zone, Campbell caught in stride behind the defenders that had incorrectly timed their jump in unison and by about 2 yards trying to knock the ball down; madness. The extra-point is whistled dead for encroachment on Venice. Without hesitation the Largo Staff sent their studs back into the game to complete what was started. Ton of things could have gone wrong, but this was one that didn't.

Postgame, Head Coach Rick Rodriguez was proud of his players for certain, and reiterated that this was about Largo Football and that's what happens when you play for 4 ENTIRE quarters. Packers OC Ryan Taylor pointed out what they as a staff saw at halftime.

"We started to realize we were gaining an advantage at the line in passing situations, so we started letting Donavan get into some open space to make throws, and he made some great ones. We just decided to no rely on our running style in the second half. We knew this game could be a lot worse at halftime. We were lucky to only be down 7-0 with all of the stuff that happened in the first half. Our O-Line actually protected well; our run-blocking wasn't great (except for the 2-point conversion of course)."

Hale finished the game 17-for-33, 224 yards, TD, and an INT along with 9 rushes for 36 yards and a TD as well; he was 9-for-19, 137yds in the 4th Quarter. Stewart grinded his way to 75yds on 22 carries and a TD along with his 3 receptions for 28 yards putting him over the century mark for the night in all-purpose yardage for Largo. Frioud summarized it best; "In the Second Half they came out and played the game plan exactly the way we set it up; we were going to stop #28. The kid's a stud, I gave him one, I knew he'd break one on us and he did, but then we clamped down."



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