By Matt Mauney | Associate Editor
Even at 10-0, the Durant High football team felt it had to make a statement Friday in its region quarterfinal game with Tampa Bay Tech.
“We wanted to demand respect,” said senior fullback Jamarlon Hamilton.
If people didn’t respect the Cougars before Friday night, they should now. Durant improved to 11-0 on the season with a convincing 34-7 home win over TBT (7-4).
“We saw a lot of people saying that we haven’t played anybody,” Hamilton added. “Well tonight we played somebody and did the exact same thing that we’ve done all season.”
Durant will now face a familiar foe in 7A District 8 rival Newsome next week in the regional semifinals. Durant, the District 8 champion, will host the Wolves, a team they beat 38-28 Oct. 18.
“It should be a packed house and we’ll be looking forward to it,” said head coach Mike Gottman about the rematch.
Durant set the tone early on with an interception by Terry Grimsley on TBT’s third play of the game, setting the Cougars up on the Titans 21-yard-line. Durant would go up 7-0 after a short drive was capped by a 1-yard run by quarterback Trey Van De Grift.
After the Durant defense forced a punt on the ensuing possession, Durant’s drive stalled, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Cougars a first down and set them up with another chance. They would go up 14-0 after a 14-yard pass to Corey Roberts.
Durant went up 21-7 at the half when Crispian Atkins scored on a 36-yard option pitch with 8:56 to play in the second quarter. The Cougars sealed things away in the second half with a 31-yard in-and-around touchdown run from Zach Hooper and a 18-yard rumble for a score from Hamilton with a minute and a half to play.
TBT’s lone score of the game came in the second quarter on a 14-yard run from Deon Thompson.
The Durant defense came up with another big turnover in the second half, when they forced a fumble with the Titans driving into the red zone.
“I knew that if we could limit big plays from them and win the turnover battle that we would be in good shape to win,” Gottman said. “I wanted to win the turnover battle tonight.”