TAMPA, Fla. – For the second consecutive year, the Tampa Bay Tech Titans are heading to the regional final.
Led by Xavione Washington’s three touchdown passes, the Titans (12-0) rolled to a 26-18 victory over the Palmetto Tigers (5-6) on Friday night.
The Titans will host Wharton (Tampa) in the Class 7A, Region 3 Final next Friday night.
The Titans led throughout the game, and they got on the board on their opening drive thanks to a 14-yard touchdown pass from their junior quarterback Washington to freshman wide receiver Santonyo Isaac to put the home side up 7-0 early.
Following a couple of drives by the Tigers that resulted in punts, they got on the board late in the first quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Brandon Gonzalez to make it 7-3.
Late in the first half, Washington connected on his second passing touchdown of the night, this time finding senior wide receiver Josh Ponder on a 17-yard pass to push the lead to 14-3.
In the final seconds of the second quarter, sophomore kicker Kendall Johnson connected on a 25-yard field goal to give the Titans a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Tampa Bay Tech’s defense held Palmetto to just 54 yards of offense in the opening half.
On Palmetto’s opening drive of the second half, freshman quarterback Zander Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety, pushing the Titans lead to 19-3. However, that would be the only scoring in the third quarter from either side.
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers cut the deficit back to a one-score game as Smith connected with sophomore wide receiver Rokland Lodge on a 22-yard touchdown. The next play, Smith connected on the two-point conversion to make it 19-11 Titans with a little over eight minutes to play.
Right at the midway point of the fourth quarter, Iowa State commit Greg Gaines made a phenomenal catch on a 15-yard out route to extend a drive. Later in the drive, Washington and Gaines connected on a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it a two-score game at 26-11.
The Tigers did not go away quietly though, as they put together a 6-play, 45-yard drive in just under two minutes that culminated with Smith finding Malique Callaway on a 10-yard touchdown reception to make it 26-18 Titans with just over two minutes remaining.
The Tigers recovered the onside kick, but Tampa Bay Tech’s defense stood tall when it mattered most as they stopped Palmetto on four straight plays.
BOX SCORE 1 2 3 4 Total
Palmetto 3 0 0 15 18
Tampa Bay Tech 7 10 2 7 26
TBT: Xavione Washington: 14-yard pass to Santonyo Isaac. Kick good (7-0 TBT)- 8:43
PALMETTO: Brandon Gonzalez: 27-yard field goal (7-3 TBT)- 0:24
TBT: Xavione Washington: 17-yard pass to Josh Ponder. Kick good (14-3 TBT)- 3:22
TBT: Kendall Johnson: 25-yard field goal (17-3 TBT)- 0:27
TBT: Safety (19-3 TBT)- 11:02
PALMETTO: Zander Smith: 22-yard pass to Rokland Lodge. 2-pt conversion good (19-11 TBT)- 8:24
TBT: Xavione Washington: 4-yard pass to Greg Gaines. Kick good (26-11 TBT)- 3:51
PALMETTO: Zander Smith: 10-yard pass to Malique Callway. Kick good (26-18 TBT)- 2:05