Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Devils topple Titans


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LAKELAND - It was a dark and stormy night.

Lurking through the streets of East Lakeland were the Avon Park Red Devils, who were looking to make the Tenoroc Titans their first victim of the 2013 season.

And they did it rather handily, shutting out Tenoroc 13-0 before the game was called due to inclement weather late in the first half.

"I'm proud of our guys," said Avon Park coach Wade Jackson. "We came out and played our brand of football, which is running the ball."

While it took a while to get going, the Devils' run game eventually found its footing against the Titans, as Avon Park scored both of its touchdowns on the ground.

The Red Devils' first scoring drive came thanks to some big runs from J.C. Cobb, who broke free a handful of times for big gains. After reaching the goal line, the Titans managed to stuff the Red Devils' first scoring attempt. But when the quarter ended and the teams switched end zones, Mason Jahna powered his way past the goal line for a touchdown, going in nearly untouched.

After holding Tenoroc at midfield, heavier rain started to fall, but it did little to nullify Avon Park's stable of running backs, as Joe Nance scampered down the side lines for a 58 yard gain. Caleb Purser punched the ball in on the next play to make it 13-0 before Tenoroc blocked Avon Park's extra point attempt.

"We thought we could run the ball after looking at the film," Jackson said. "I told the guys before the game, this kind of offense is hard to play defense against the first time you go out there."

The Red Devils defense looked solid as well. Three times they stopped the Titans on fourth down in Avon Park territory, with the secondary forcing Tenoroc's Dylan Wright-Sirmon into 13 incomplete passes.

Similar to the offense, the Red Devils had some early jitters of defense, but once it going, it became a terror for the Titans.

"Our defense did really well," Jackson said. "At times I thought we were a little hesitant in the beginning, but we started getting comfortable and just playing. We laid some licks on some people and knocked down some passes."

While there were a few errors, including an Avon Park fumble in the first quarter and a handful of dropped passes, Jackson said he's not concerned with the mistakes.

"Those are correctable," he said. "If it was something we couldn't correct, then I'd be worried."

Avon Park will again be on the road for its regular season opener. The Red Devils travel to Frostproof on Aug. 30 to take on the Bulldogs. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"I'm very proud of the effort that was given tonight," Jackson said. "I couldn't ask for any more than that."

bhoward@highlandstoday.com

863-386-5841

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