Tampa Bay Tech ends Lake Gibson's season in state semifinals

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TAMPA — Turnovers and missed opportunities turned out to be the lament for Lake Gibson in its final game of the 2021 season.

So despite more than 400 yards of total offense — nearly 100 yards more than Tampa Bay Tech — the Braves came up short as the Titans came away with a 42-24 victory on Friday night in the Class 7A state semifinals.

“We left a lot of points off the board,” Lake Gibson coach Keith Barefield Jr. said. “We didn’t finish in the red zone, and we handed the ball to them. We gave them more opportunities, and you can’t do that and expect to win in the playoffs. This time of year, you have to play great ball, perfect ball.”

Lake Gibson defensive line coach Levi Hargrove consoles his player Jaremey McQueen (52) after their loss to Tampa Bay Tech during their Class 7A state semifinal playoff game in Tampa Friday night.
Lake Gibson defensive line coach Levi Hargrove consoles his player Jaremey McQueen (52) after their loss to Tampa Bay Tech during their Class 7A state semifinal playoff game in Tampa Friday night.

Offensively, the Braves moved up and down the field on the Titans. Running back Jaylon Glover ran for 278 yards on 35 carries and added 41 yards on a pair of receptions. Logan Hackett completed 19 of 29 passes for 203 yards.

Lake Gibson, however, turned the ball over four times on three fumbles and an interception. The Braves also had the ball inside the 10 twice, coming away with just three points, and had another key drive stall after they reached the 23 with a chance to make it a one-score game in the third quarter.

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"That’s the story of the first half too,” Barefield said. “The first two drives we get in there and we just don’t capitalize on them. Three trips and we get three points. You can’t do that and expect to win. Give credit to Tampa Bay Tech. They capitalized on our mistakes like a great championship team does. They’re a great team.”

Trailing 21-3 at halftime, Lake Gibson did what it needed to do defensively to get back in the game. The Braves stopped the Titans on fourth down on the opening possession of the second half at the Lake Gibson 47. Lake Gibson drove 53 yards in 12 plays as Glover scored on an 8-yard run to cut Tampa Bay Tech’s lead to 21-10.

Lake Gibson running back Jaylon Glover (1) rushes for a first down against Tampa Bay Tech during the first quarter.
Lake Gibson running back Jaylon Glover (1) rushes for a first down against Tampa Bay Tech during the first quarter.

The Braves again stopped the Titans on fourth down, this time at the Lake Gibson 42, and the Braves quickly drove to the 23. However, two inclompetions sandwiched around a 2-yard loss set up fourth-and-12 at the 25. Hackett completed the fourth-down pass to Chris Moore, but it was short of the first down.

Lake Gibson again kept Tampa Bay from scoring for the third time in the third quarter, forcing a punt this time. However, two plays later, Hackett was intercepted on the final play of the quarter.

Tampa Bay Tech needed just two plays to add to its cushion. Runs of 17 and 25 yards by quarterback Xavione Washington put the Titans up 28-10.

Lake Gibson quickly answered when Glover broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown to make the score 28-17 early in the fourth quarter. The Braves still had time to come back after forcing the Titans to punt on their next possession.

“We moved the ball,” Barefield said. “We had everything we wanted. But in key situations, we’re handing the ball to them.”

Lake Gibson’s fourth turnover, a fumble that the Titans recovered near midfield, dashed the Braves hopes for a comeback, especially when Ronald Sims scored on a 17-yard run four plays later.

The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the game with Glover scoring on a 10-yard run and Sims scoring on a 5-yard run.

Tampa Bay Tech running back James Evans (24) is tackled by Lake Gibson's Omarion Lopez (6) during the first half.
Tampa Bay Tech running back James Evans (24) is tackled by Lake Gibson's Omarion Lopez (6) during the first half.

The story of missed opportunities for Lake Gibson began on its first possession of the game. Forced to punt, the ball hit a cover player for the Titans, and Lake Gibson recovered at the 8. Glover’s 8-yard touchdown run was negated because of a penalty. Then on second-and-goal at the 6, a bad snap went past Hackett for a 26-yard loss, and Lake Gibson finally punted from the 32.

On the ensuing possession, Tampa Bay Tech drove to the 3. Then on fourth-and-1 at the 3, Washington fumbled and the ball went out of the back of the end zone.

Lake Gibson drove on its next possession to the 8 where the drive stalled and the Braves had to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead, their only lead of the game.

Washington hooked up with Greg Gaines III for a 27-yard touchdown pass on Tampa Bay Tech’s next possession.

After Washington’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Gaines in the second quarter gave the Titans a 14-3 lead, Lake Gibson fumbled the ball away on back-to-back possessions. Gaines threw his third touchdown pass of the first half that gave Tampa Bay Tech a 21-3 halftime lead. Gaines completed 5 of 8 passes for 137 yards in the first half.

Roy Fuoco can be reached at roy.fuoco@theledger.com or at 863-802-7526. Follow him on Twitter: @RoyFuoco.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Tampa Bay Tech ends Lake Gibson's season in state semifinals

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