On Friday night it was the Cougars, not the Lions, who were kings of the jungle.
Durant started its 2019 season on a high note with a 42-6 win at King, propelled by a 35-point first half with just one punt.
After Durant’s defense forced the Lions to go three and out, the Cougars got the most out of their new flexbone offense and Eli Reed capped off their opening drive with a 25-yard rushing touchdown. Quarterback Sean Williams scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns on Durant’s next possession, busting out a 15-yard run after King turned the ball over on downs. On the final drive of the first quarter, Reed struck gold again finding the end zone from 10 yards out with 1.2 seconds left.
The Cougars forced King to punt early in the second quarter and, on their first offensive snap, Williams connected with Collin Cole on a 29-yard touchdown pass for the 28-0 lead. After getting the ball back with 8:09 left in the half and needing one more touchdown to secure a second-half running clock, Durant had its first unsuccessful drive of the game with several penalties driving the offense backward and several passes not connecting. But King only had the ball for about two minutes of game time, then had a punt blocked by the defense and recovered by Durant’s Lane Robbins. The Cougars finally got that touchdown on the ensuing drive, marching all the way to the goal line for Williams to sneak through the defense with 1:47 to go.
Durant got the ball back after the half and gave the backups two quarters of run. The second team got hot early on, returning the opening kickoff to about the King 34. L.J. Gappy broke off a 30-yard run to put the Cougars in prime scoring position and put another touchdown on the board himself four plays later.
King crossed the 50-yard line for the first time early in the fourth quarter, picking up two quick first downs through the air, and David Hayes caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions on the scoreboard. The two-point conversion attempt bobbled out of the end zone, however, and the final score was set. Durant ate up almost all of the remaining game clock on its next drive, turning the ball over on downs in King territory but then stifling the Lions’ attempt to make something happen through the air again.
In other area action, Plant City came out of its battle at Jesuit with a 37-29 win and Strawberry Crest handled Leto with a 20-6 win of its own on the road. It was the first time since Oct. 18, 2013, that Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest all won a regular-season game on the same night.