HURRICANES 30 MUSTANGS 21

TRINITY – A 14-0 lead wasn’t enough to get Mitchell into the second round for a third straight season Friday night.

The host Mustangs jumped all over Ocala Lake Weir early, but the Hurricanes responded by reeling off 21 straight points from the second quarter into the third and won their first-ever postseason game, 30-21.

“I think it was two evenly matched teams,” Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz said afterward. “If we play 10 times, it’s probably one of those things where we win five and they win five.”

Lake Weir’s defense and its ability to generate turnovers ended up playing a huge role in Friday night’s victory. Senior Brian Dillard snagged two of the Hurricanes’ four interceptions and also recovered a fumble in the opening quarter. Two of the picks resulted in Lake Weir touchdowns, including a game-tying, 20-yard hookup between quarterback Deiontae Simpkins and Dillard with 3:12 left in the first half.

The Hurricanes rolled that momentum right into the third quarter. After receiving the second-half kick and taking a 10-yard penalty, Lake Weir went 80 yards in four plays to grab its first lead of the night, 21-14. Simpkins capped a blitz of a drive with a 14-yard run.

Lake Weir’s junior dual-threat quarterback finished his night 15 of 21 passing for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Simpkins added 66 yards and two scores on the ground, but it was his second-half precision that elevated Lake Weir to victory. Simpkins completed 11 of 12 passes in the final two quarters for 157 yards. His only incompletion came when Mustangs safety Nic Fairbank picked him off deep in Mitchell territory midway through the third quarter.

That interception came on first down with Lake Weir leading 21-14 and looking to extend its advantage. Rather than fall behind by two scores, Mitchell hitched its wagon to running back Tyler Williams and the junior took eight straight carries 60 yards into the end zone to tie the game.

“He’s been kind of known as a big-play guy, but he runs really, really hard,” Schmitz said, stating that the game plan going in was to run plenty of power sets and lean on Williams.

The junior back carried the ball 31 times for 171 yards and scored the touchdown that tied the game at 21-21 with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter.

That score held into the fourth until Lake Weir went on 15-play scoring drive that ate up more than seven minutes. The sequence ended with Nixon Mejia’s 28-yard field goal and included one of the night’s gutsiest decisions when Hurricanes coach Knox Robinson went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 16 with 9:30 left in the game.

Running back Tavoo Randall converted with a 4-yard run and Hurricanes back Zian King moved the chains on fourth-and-1 again later in the drive before Lake Weir stalled out at the Mitchell 11. Mustangs senior defensive end Dominic Marino helped limit the Hurricanes to a field goal by busting into the backfield on the drive’s final two plays, including a sack of Simpkins on third down.

Mitchell’s ensuing drive began at its own 10 and never got going. The Mustangs ran only 15 plays leading up to the possession and all 15 were runs by either Williams or quarterback Kym-Mani King. The first pass of the second half resulted in an incompletion and the second got picked off by Dillard to set up Randall’s game-clinching 8-yard touchdown run.

Dillard added five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown to his three-turnover performance on defense.

Mitchell’s season ends at 8-3 overall and that included the program’s fourth straight district championship.

Lake Weir improved to 8-3 and will now take on Class 6A Region 2 No. 2 seed Armwood on the road next Friday. The Hawks won their first-round game 54-0 over Groveland South Lake.

SCORING:

LW - 0 – 14 – 7 – 9 --- 30

Mit - 7 – 7 – 7 – 0 --- 21

Mit – Graham 28-yard pass from King. Kick (Eichner) – 1st Q (8:20)

Mit – King 5-yard run. Kick (Eichner) – 2nd Q (11:54)

LW – Simpkins 3-yard run. Kick (Mejia) – 2nd Q (5:42)

LW – Dillard 20-yard pass from Simpkins. Kick (Mejia) – 2nd Q (3:12)

LW – Simpkins 14-yard run. Kick (Mejia) – 3rd Q (11:02)

Mit – Williams 1-yard run. Kick (Eichner) – 3rd Q (3:31)

LW – Mejia 28-yard FG. – 4th Q (3:58)

LW – Randall 8-yard run. Kick failed – 4th Q (1:39)

TEAM STATS:

----------------------LW------- Mit

First Downs----------13---------12

Atts./Rush Yds.---33-151----43-231

Comp./Atts./Int.---15-21-1----4-12-4

Passing Yds.--------201-------77

Net Yards-----------352-------299

Fumbles/Lost-------1-0-------2-1

Punts/Avg.---------3-36.0---2-34.0

Penalties----------13-102-------7-70

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

RUSHING

LW – Simpkins (9-66, TD), Randall (15-63, TD), King (8-21).

Mit – Williams (31-171, TD), King (12-60, TD).

PASSING

LW – Simpkins (15-21 for 201, TD, INT).

Mit – King (4-12 for 77, TD, 4 INT).

RECEIVING

LW – Dillard (5-76, TD), Mister (5-57), Burt (4-59).

Mit – Graham (1-28, TD), J. Fairbank (2-38), Crews (1-11).

PINELLAS SCORES

7A: (7) Palmetto 38 (2) P. Park 21

6A: (2) Charlotte 44 (7) Clearwater 20

6A: (6) N. Ft. Myers 24 (3) Largo 17

5A: (4) Lakewood 10 (5) Booker 6

3A: (6) Calvary 34 (3) Card. Mooney 43

PASCO SCORES

7A: (1) Lakeland 43 (8) Wiregrass 7

5A: (2) Z-Hills 35 (7) Crystal River 0

2A: (6) Z-Hills Christ. 55 (3) St. Francis 0