Durant was coming off an impressive 33-0 playoff win at Palm Harbor as Sumner barely survived Riverview, winning 33-28. Sumner was up 20-7 at halftime and Riverview almost completed the comeback, with a huge 14-point fourth quarter. The Stingrays and the Cougars faced off earlier in the season on September 29, at Durant. The Cougars were down 21-6 heading into the 4th, but scored 22 points, ultimately winning 28-27, handing the Stingrays their only loss of the season. Entering Friday’s game Durant was 6-0 on the road this year and Sumner was 6-0 at home this year.
Sumner started the game with a nice kick return, starting their first drive at their own 47-yard line. They quickly found success through the air as Greg Smith found Tyler Williams for a big gain, putting them inside the Durant 10-yard line. Jerome Parham for Durant had an impressive 5-yard tackle for loss on Sumner, but it didn’t bother the Stingrays. On the very next play, Smith hit tight end Charlie Bartling for a touchdown. The Stingrays missed the 2-point conversion, leading 6-0 with 10:04 left in the first.
The Cougars started their first possession at their own 35-yard line. The drive started nicely as Michael Ryan hit wide receiver Damari Styles for 9 yards, but then a Durant penalty and incompletions led to the Cougars having to punt.
Sumner took over on their own 30-yard line and they got three first downs in a row thanks to Daius Smith, Malik Brown, and Devin Spencer. That put them inside Durant’s red zone. The Stingrays easily convert on 4th and 1, with a quarterback sneak. The Stingrays scored on an end-around play with Darius Smith getting the touchdown. Another missed 2-point attempt put the game at 12-0 with 2:27 left in the first.
Durant needed a spark, so they went back to Damari Styles and he delivered. This time with an impressive one-handed catch. Durant couldn’t get the ball going after the big play, ultimately resulting in a turnover on downs. That ended the first quarter with Sumner up 12-0.
The second quarter started with a 10-yard holding penalty on Sumner. A big play to Malik Brown put them inside the Cougars red zone once again. Darius Smith punched it in for the score and Sumner led 19-0, with 10:21 left in the half.
Damari Styles, Emmanuel Lee, and Jaylin Torres got three first downs in a row for Durant and this time the offense got going. The momentum halted briefly as the Cougars met with a 4th and 9 midfield and they opted for a timeout with 7:39 left in the half. The Cougars not only converted, but they scored as Michael Ryan found Damari Styles wide open in the middle of the field for a Cougars touchdown. The extra point was good and the score was 19-7.
Sumner had a huge kick return for 50+ yards but it was negated and brought back due to a penalty on the Stingrays. Durant’s defense brought Sumner to a 4th and one midfield. Sumner opted to go for it and quarterback Greg Smith ran for 21 yards. Now in Durant territory, the Stingrays ran the ball five times in a row, moving them into the red zone. Greg Smith found Taesean Robinson for a Stingrays touchdown, making it 26-7 Sumner.
Durant was forced to punt after a 3-and-out, ending the half.
Durant started the second half with the ball and in good field position as the kick return put them at the 45-yard line. Damari Styles got a first down and then Emmanuel Lee got going with back-to-back first downs. Durant had to settle for a field goal, making it 26-10 with 8:40 left in the third.
The Stingrays started the first offensive drive of the second half at their own 33-yard line. They had two decent runs and Taesean Robinson got a nice 23-yard catch. It was 3rd and manageable after two Sumner runs and Hale Sollman got a much-needed sack for Durant, forcing Sumner to punt.
Durant’s offense couldn’t build off the defensive stop and was met with a 4th down attempt. Durant faked the punt and couldn’t convert, and Sumner took over at Durant’s 40-yard line. In the very next play, Greg Smith threw to Malik Brown for a 40-yard touchdown. The score was 33-10 with 22 seconds left in the third.
Treon Williams got a huge 68-yard return for Durant, starting the drive at Sumner’s 25-yard line. Damari Styles got a first down after an impressive route and the Stingrays got a facemask penalty tacked on. That ended the third quarter with Sumner up 33-10.
Durant wasted no time as Michael Ryan once again found Damari Styles for a Cougars touchdown on the first play of the fourth. The score was 33-17 with 11:55 left in the game.
Sumner ran it numerous times, getting the ball all the way to the Cougars 15-yard line. The run opened up the pass as Greg Smith hit tight end Charlie Bartling for a Stingrays touchdown. The score was 40-17 with 5:35 left.
Michael Ryan found Emmanuel Lee and Lee showed his explosiveness as he took it for 69 yards into Stingray territory. Unfortunately, Lee got injured on this huge play and left the field in an ambulance. After a game delay, Durant resumed the drive at the Stingrays 5-yard line and Christian Gambrell ran it in for the touchdown. Durant made the 2-point conversion making it 40-25 Stingrays with just a few minutes left in the game.
Durant attempted an onside kick and Sumner recovered. Sumner ran the ball and turned it over on downs with Durant getting the ball at their own 40-yard line. Durant was driving down but the season came to an end when Sumner got a game-sealing interception.
The final score was 40-25 and Sumner advanced in the playoffs and will take on Plant who escaped with a 28-21 win vs Dr. Phillips in a close game that went to overtime.
Final Stats for The Cougars:
-Michael Ryan: 19 Completions on 31 Attempts, 252 Passing Yards, 2 Passing Touchdowns & 1 INT
-Emmanuel Lee: 12 Carries, 49 Rushing Yards
-Christian Gambrell: 1 Carry, 5 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing Touchdown
-Damari Styles: 11 Receptions, 118 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdown
-Emmanuel Lee: 2 Receptions, 73 Receiving Yards
-Jaylin Torres: 3 Receptions, 31 Receiving Yards
-Jayden Cornelius: 1 Reception, 13 Receiving Yards
-Christian Gambrell: 1 Reception, 8 Receiving Yards
-Chris Lankford: 1 Reception, 3 Receiving Yards