Countryside 27 East Lake 21: Cougars Pounce on Eagles Mistakes

The last two years have not been kind to the East Lake Eagles when it comes to their rivalry with Countryside. In fact, you could down right call it cruel given the circumstances in which they were faced with  saw them nearly come away with victories both years. It was not meant to be though (again), as mistakes and missed opportunities propelled Countryside to it’s 4th consecutive victory against the Eagles in the series between now former district foes with a 27-21 victory Friday Night at East Lake.  SEE VIDEO HERE

Head Coach Jared Davis keeps on eye his Cougars in the 1st Quarter Friday Night.

Senior RB Diomi Roberts ran 17 times for 101 yards and a TD on a night when the Cougars passing game was on life support.  Roberts did not finish the game with cramping issues for the majority of the 4th Quarter, but his contribution to the ground and pound strategy implemented by Head Coach Jared Davis and his Staff was more than enough to keep East Lake’s Defense on the field long enough in the first 3 quarters to have done enough damage.

“I wished I could have played the whole game,” said Roberts who was clearly content with the fact he will have never lost to East Lake in his 4 years at Countryside. This year was a little bit different however. The Cougars were the consensus pick as ‘Best of Pinellas’ last year, but it was the Eagles who had the momentum coming into the season. Roberts was not about to let that momentum go any farther. “We just wanted to show them that we’re still the best team in Pinellas County.”

Roberts was quick to recognize his teammate Mike Johnson, the Sophomore DB was beaten by fellow Class of 2014 standout Artavis Scott on the first play from scrimmage in the 2nd Half and went 80 yards.  Johnson’s resolve was firm and was able to bounce back with two interceptions. One of them was a perfectly jumped TE Screen that he took to the house to put Countryside up 27-14 at the time. “Our defense was pretty good,” Roberts added. “Mike Johnson stepped up and made plays. He got beat for a touchdown early, but kept his head up and got 2 INT’s for us.”

The Eagles were not without their shining moments though. Quarterback Pete DiNovo (’13), Wide Receiver Artavis Scott (’14), and Running Back Tyler Lane (’12) all had monster games. DiNovo was 10-20, for 197 yards, 2 TD’s, and 2 INT’s while Scott hauled in 6 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown. Lane was the workhorse with 17 carries for 95 yards and 2TD’s (1 rush, 1 pass). Defensive Back Devin Abraham (’13) also picked off a Gray Crow pass in the 2nd Half.

RB Tyler Lane (#2) tries to find the gap against the stingy Countryside Defense.

The game was tied 7-7 at the half with both teams exchanging a mixed bag of punts, turnovers, and sustained drives with very little to show for it. All that changed in the 2nd Half when the Eagles struck 80 yards on the 1st play from scrimmage. The fireworks would continue until DiNovo threw the INT to Johnson and sent the wond out of the sails of East Lake’s ship. Some of the people in the stadium were not surprised this play happened and Senior LB Adam Vinson was one of them. According to him, that play was clearly on their minds and they played it like they were ready for it.

“We had the blitz called, but we checked out of it. Our defensive staff all week told us about it, and then tonight they were telling us that the TE screen would be coming and it was going to catch us off guard,”  Vinson smiled after the game. “When our offense isn’t having its best game, it’s up to the defense to pick them up. When the game is on the line we want the defense to be on the field.” Vinson currently holds interest from a couple of Ivy League schools.

The Eagles made a furious attempt to win the game in the end when they recovered a squib kick just inside Countryside territory only down 27-21 with only a few minutes remaining. DiNovo hit Scott who had beaten his man by a couple of steps for what surely would have been the game winner and cap an improbable comeback, but the Sophomore sensation couldn’t look it into his hands. The entire night was characterized by drops on both sides, but the ones committed by East Lake seemed to have cost the most.

East Lake (1-1, 0-0) will now look to regroup and move on as they face crosstown rival Tarpon Springs at home. The Spongers are coming off a 56-8 beat down of Clearwater last night. Countryside (2-0, 0-0) will travel to Largo for what is set to be another premier match up in Pinellas County.