Wesley, McCullough shine in Toho win

Tyler Wesley threw three touchdown passes and Blake McCullough caught six passes for 146 yards as the Tohopekaliga Tigers finished their 2019 regular season with a convincing 41-19 win over Haines City.

Toho, 6-4 in their second season of existence, will now wait to see if a Bowl Game is in their future.

“I hope we can put a bowl game together, these kids certainly deserve a chance at a seventh win,” Tohopekaliga Head Coach Marc Deas said. “So many of these kids transferred in two years ago and were entering the unknown. They went through a really rough first season but they stuck together and finished with a winning year and went from 2-7 to 6-4.”

It was not an artistic win by any definition, however.  Wesley threw an interception on the first play of the game but Haines City fumbled the ball back to them two plays later. The Tigers Jovan Morrison made it 6-0 on a 54-yard touchdown run but the Hornets would tie it on the next possession as quarterback Damione Motley would break a 62-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers would then take control of the game as they went on an 18-0 run to take a 24-6 lead. Wesley would fire an 18-yard scoring pass to Tahquis Armstrong, the Tiger defense would record a safety, and McCullough would score on a 19-yard pass from Wesley.

But Haines City would go on a run of its own. After McCullough’s score, Trent Nixon returned the ensuing kickoff 85-yards for a touchdown to make it 24-13.  Following a fumble, Motley would cap a short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 24-19.

Wesley would drive the Tigers down to the Haines City 6-yard line, but would fumble on a rollout. Haines City’s Devon Campbell recovered and returned it 88 yards for an apparent touchdown and a 25-24 lead, but the Hornets were called for a block in the back penalty away from the play. They failed to score and after Toho held on downs, Trey Johnson booted a 31-yard field goal on the last play of the half to give the Tigers a 27-19 halftime lead.

Another turnover resulted in the Tigers only running two offensive plays in the third quarter. But on Haines City’s second possession of the quarter, defensive back DeMario Tolan blocked a punt and picked up the loose ball for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 35-19.

Wesley would throw another interception in the fourth quarter, before directing a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the game. He would hit Kareem Dinzy with a 18-yard scoring pass with 1:06 remaining in the game for a 41-19 final.

“It certainly wasn’t a pretty win but it was a win,” Deas said after the game. “We didn’t play a very good game defensively and even though we moved the ball, we turned it over four times.  Give Haines City some credit though.  They came into the game winless and played hard the entire game and took advantage of our mistakes.”

For the game, Wesley completed 13 of 20 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted twice.  Morrison had 79 yards rushing.

Regardless of whether the Tigers get to play in a bowl game, Deas said he would remember this senior class fondly.

“They had a two-win season last year and worked their tails off in the off-season to make sure they went out winners. Guys like Blake McCullough, Kareem and Ahmeen Dinzy, Tahquis Armstrong and our other seniors set a standard of winning for our younger players to hopefully follow and build on.”