SEBRING - Lely used a suffocating defense and got just enough offense to ease past a banged up Sebring by a score of 28-7 Friday night at Firemen's Field.
The convincing win was the third in a row for the Class 5A Trojans and improved their record to 3-5. The loss dropped the Class 6A Blue Streaks to 5-3.
"We got beat by a good football team," said Sebring coach LaVaar Scott. "We did a pretty good job of stopping their quarterback, but the big plays they made were ones that got to the outside.
"Every big play was because of a mental mistake we made."
Both defenses dominated a scoreless first quarter before Lely quarterback Karbiel Dirogene connected with wide receiver Williamson George on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The extra point by Sergio Alfaro put the Trojans on top 7-0 with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter.
After forcing a Sebring punt, Lely struck quickly as Dirogene broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage and raced 50 yards for the score. The point after made it 14-0.
Sebring answered as junior speedster Ladante Harris returned the kickoff 94 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to make it 14-7 at the half.
"Ladante makes big plays for us and that return got us back in the game," Scott said. "We just weren't able to have many other big plays."
At halftime, Jacquae Peart was selected as Sebring's Homecoming King and Hunter Yarbrough as selected as Homecoming Queen.
Neither team could move the ball with any consistency in the third period until the Trojans marched 80 yards in 11 plays with running back Tupac Isme capping the drive with an 8-yard scoring run for a 21-7 lead with 29.5 seconds left in the quarter.
Sebring struggled to move the ball with any consistency on the ground or through the air despite playing Jair Watson and Connor Cook at quarterback.
The banged up Blue Streaks lost several players to injury in the physical contest and were reduced to having Peart, a linebacker, playing tailback in the second half.
"We're hurt because we lost linemen before the game and during the game," Scott said. "We also lost running backs before the game and during the game, but we still have to execute better."
Lely sealed the victory and ruined Sebring's homecoming with an 11-yard scoring run from running back Mikey Plancher late in final quarter.
Despite the tough loss, Sebring plays its biggest game of the season on Friday night with a Class 6A-District 9 clash against Lake Gibson.
A Blue Streak victory would make them district runner-up and give them an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
"We have to keep it together, get some things fixed and hopefully get some guys back healthy," Scott said. "This is the biggest game of the season and we have to bounce back and play better."