TAMPA — It was far from clean, but Port Charlotte cruised to a 21-6 victory over Hillsborough in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
Despite four fumbles offensively and four dropped interceptions, the Pirates weren’t rattled playing on the road.
Port Charlotte outgained the Terriers, 378-196, and stymied their offense for much of the game.
Hillsborough got the ball into scoring range a few times, but a failed fake field goal, an interception and a few run stops by the Pirate defense turned them away.
The Pirates were then able to control the clock with the run game and keep the ball away from the Terrier offense, a style of play they’ve executed well so far this season.
Key plays: One play after a broken coverage allowed a 35-yard pass from Hillsborough quarterback Caleb Pierce, Port Charlotte’s Steffan McGowan jumped in front of a pass for the interception in Pirate territory.
The Pirates had a chance at four more interceptions in the first half, but three were dropped and one was ruled out of bounds.
The Pirates got on the board first with a 2-yard touchdown run from Ja’Nyrein Washington early in the second quarter.
The Terriers responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Pierce to Herman James, but the extra point was blocked by Solomon Luther.
Port Charlotte scores again before the half on a 9-yard toss to Bo Guy to make it 14-6.
The touchdown was set up by a slick spin by Rogers that allowed him to roll out and hit Guy for 19 yards.
Luther dropped what could of been a slant to the house for a touchdown, but came back on the next drive and produced a highlight catch and run for a 44-yard touchdown, the only score of the second half.
Holding a 15-point lead late in the fourth, Rogers pinned the Terriers deep with a 62-yard punt downed at the 4-yard line. Hillsborough would end up punting it right back.
Key stats: Rogers finished 9 of 12 passing for 129 yards and a touchdowns, adding 37 yards on the ground and three extra points. Ja’Nyrein Washington picked you 116 yards on the ground, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Jaylan Turner led with six catches for 50 yards.
The Terriers were held to 2 of 11 on third down (18 percent). Pierce was 11 of 28 for 143 yards and a touchdown.
What it means: It’s pretty simple, it means the Pirates live to fight another week. Port Charlotte improves to 10-1 with the win and will face Palmetto, which squeaked by Braden River, 24-21.
What they said: “We didn’t play well, we played hard,” Port Charlotte coach Jordan Ingman said. “We hadn’t had a turnover in four games, had (four) tonight, missed some touchdowns. But at the end of the day, in the playoffs, all that matters is that you have one point more than the other team. We’re thankful for that.”