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Titans Sports

4A football: Tampa Bay Tech 12, Auburndale 7

Posted Saturday, November 22, 2008 by Keith Niebuhr
To D.D. Johnson, the football was in the air for what seemed like an eternity. But as it came floating toward him, the 5-foot-7 Tampa Bay Tech defensive back knew exactly what needed to be done.

"I had to get it," Johnson said.

By outjumping an Auburndale receiver who had a good 5 inches on him, Johnson did exactly that, intercepting the Bloodhounds pass with 43 seconds left to preserve a thrilling 12-7 Titans win Friday, the first playoff victory in program history.

"As soon as he came down with it, I wanted to know who won — Armwood or Winter Haven," Tampa Bay Tech coach C.C. Culpepper said. "I got a little nervous (toward the end). This is new territory for me as a coach and for the kids."

The Titans (10-1), who face Armwood next week in a rematch of an Oct. 10 game won 45-6 by the Hawks, appeared to be on their way to a relatively comfortable win midway through the fourth. But leading 12-0, they missed a field goal by inches, then saw Auburndale go 80 yards on five plays to close within five points on a 2-yard Devonta London run with 6:32 left.

After forcing a TBT punt a short while later, Auburndale (5-6) had the ball twice in the final 3:33, but was stifled by the Titans defense.

"Our defense played big," Culpepper said. "Especially when it counted."

The same could be said of quarterback Angel Rodriguez, who accounted for 218 (115 yards rushing, 103 passing) of TBT's 303 total yards. His biggest play was an 84-yard third-quarter run that put the Titans ahead by two TDs. On the play, Rodriguez initially put the ball into the gut of fullback Maurice Hagens (70 rushing yards), but pulled it out and kept it when he saw the defense was heading toward his teammate.

Tampa Bay Tech 12
Auburndale 7

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