By Kyle LoJacono
NEW TAMPA — Freedom got the big play it needed on special teams to seal a 16-7 victory over Class 5A, District 7 rival Wharton.
Freedom’s Keith Lewis scored on a 2-yard run set up by a Wharton fumble. Wharton tied the game after recovering a muffed punt near the Freedom 10-yard line shortly after. The Wildcats cashed in on the mistake on a 2-yard touchdown run by Malik Williams.
The tie did not last long as Freedom’s T.J. Mutcherson took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to put the Patriots up for good. Wharton’s Ryan Hatter passed for 152 yards.
“It has just been a tough year for us offensively,” Wharton coach David Mitchell said. “We really need to figure out how to score, because our defense is keeping us in ball games.”
CHAMBERLAIN 13, GAITHER 6: Last year, these teams meet in the playoffs, but both are playing out the string.
First-year Chamberlain coach Joe Severino got his first win thanks to two long scoring drives and timely defense. Chamberlain had a 95-yard touchdown drive capped by an Andra Hubbard 7-yard run and a 78-yard drive result in a 54-yard run by Blake Bell.
Gaither’s lone score was a 1-yard run by Zach Condon that was set up by a 24-yard catch by Jamal Allen. It was the first points of any kind for Gaither since Sept. 25.
SICKLES 38, LETO 0: Sickles’ triple-option offense ran all over Leto to seal a playoff berth following a 3-7 season.
Carey White, Hillsborough County’s leading rusher, ran for 160 yards and two scores, while Brieann Dollard and Scott O’Donoghue each had a touchdown. Chris Nahat added a 48-yard punt return for a score, and Andres Vasquez had a 47-yard field goal.
STRAWBERRY CREST 32, STEINBRENNER 27: In a battle of first-year teams who played earlier this year at the junior varsity level, Strawberry Crest got its first varsity win and avenged a season-opening home loss to Steinbrenner.
The Warriors had a 19-12 halftime lead on a Daniel Fernandez scoring run and 80-yard kickoff return, and a Kendall Pearcy catch from Christian Carriere. Carriere added a touchdown run. Steinbrenner lost the lead in the second half by allowing 20 straight points to the Chargers.
CARROLLWOOD DAY PREP 56, NAPLES FIRST BAPTIST ACADEMY 7: Carrollwood Day Prep kept rolling up points against Naples First Baptist. The Patriots scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters and added 14 in the fourth.
Billy Embody threw for five touchdowns — two each to Deuce Gruden and Dillon Floyd, and one to Matt Monteilh. Darius Bing had two rushing scores and Monteilh added another.
The lopsided victory ended the Patriots’ shutout streak at home.
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