LABELLE - It wasn't all that bad a performance for a team that only played one half of football.
Sebring bounced back from a loss to knock off Class 4A LaBelle on Friday night, 26-8, on the Cowboys home turf. The win improved the Blue Streaks to 3-1 on the season overall, while the Cowboys dropped to 1-3.
"We stayed in Sebring for the first half," Blue Streaks coach LaVarr Scott said. "But in the second half our offense started to click."
From the outset, however, it looked as if Sebring would steamroll LaBelle. Ladante Harris took the opening kick off back for an 80-yard touchdown, and less than one minute into the game, the Blue Streaks were up 7-0.
But the Streaks offense stagnated from there, and a slew of turnovers let the Cowboys back into the game.
Facing a fourth down near its own end zone midway through the second quarter, a high snap cost Sebring a safety, giving the Cowboys their first points of the night. After forcing LaBelle to punt, Sebring coughed the ball back up at midfield when Breon Jones fumbled.
Following the turnover, the Cowboys put together a drive on the strength of some solid rushes from Jerome Baxter, who punched it in for a score with just over 10 seconds left in the half to give LaBelle an 8-7 lead. The Blue Streaks managed to block the Cowboys extra point attempt.
Sebring looked like a completely different team in the second half. The Blue Streaks ran away with the game, outscoring the Cowboys 19-0.
"They responded after halftime," Scott said. "The first team had a couple of big plays for us, and defensively, once we got the personnel fixed, we were good."
The Cowboys took the ball to start the second half, but ran up against a brick wall in the Blue Streaks defense. Holding LaBelle to another punt, Sebring put together a quick drive midway through the third quarter that resulted in the team's first score since the opening kick.
Giovanni Jenkins carried the Streaks into Cowboys territory with a 40-yard rush and quarterback Connor Cook punctuated his run with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jordyn Blount to put Sebring up 14-8.
Another strong defensive stand from Sebring forced LaBelle to punt, but a screen pass to Jenkins resulted in the Blue Streaks second fumble of the game, and the Cowboys recovered the ball near midfield.
Two plays later, though, it was LaBelle's turn to fumble the ball, and Sebring recovered it just a few yards shy of where it was just minutes earlier.
Thanks to the decent field position, Sebring scored another touchdown when Harris scampered in from 15 yards out, putting the Blue Streaks up 20-8. Sebring's extra point attempt failed.
With just over five minutes left in the game, Harris struck again when he intercepted LaBelle's A.J. Ayala, returning the ball into Cowboys territory.
Willie Allen carried the Streaks down to the goal line, and Jair Watson waltzed into the end zone to give Sebring a 26-8 lead. The Cowboys blocked the Streaks extra point attempt.
While happy with the win, Scott alluded to the tough road ahead for the Blue Streaks.
"We played a lot better in the second half," Scott said. "You could see flashes of greatness. But if we want to beat the Winter Havens and the Lake Gibsons of the world, it's going to take a second half like that and then some."
Sebring will have a bye this week and won't be on the gridiron again until Oct. 4, when the Blue Streaks will face Class 6A-Distric 11 rival Lake Region at home. The game against the Thunder is also the school's Youth Night. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.