Facing a four-year starter at quarterback, South Fort Myers senior defensive back Teh’Ron Fuller knew he had his work cut out for him.
The work paid off.
South Fort Myers defeated Lakeland Lake Gibson 28-16 Friday night at South High, where the Wolfpack will play host to Winter Haven next Friday in the Region 6A-3 semifinals.
Winter Haven defeated Ida Baker 38-35.
“They match up well,” said Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer, whose team lost to Winter Haven for their district championship. “It will be a lot like this game.”
Fuller, who verbally committed to Appalachian State, picked off two passes against Lake Gibson and returned both for touchdowns.
Fuller’s 50-yard return in the first quarter gave South Fort Myers a 14-3 lead. His 65-yard return with two minutes remaining prevented what could have been a go-ahead touchdown drive by Lake Gibson, which finished its season with a 7-3 record. South improved to 8-3.
“The second one was more important,” said Fuller, who had two interception returns for touchdowns in two previous games this season, against Hialeah and Riverdale. “That sealed the deal. Big-time players make big-time plays.”
Lake Gibson senior quarterback Trey Congdon completed 9-of-19 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns with the two picks. He has received a scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky.
“That’s the best quarterback we have faced,” South coach Grant Redhead said. “He’s fantastic.”
Redhead, however, had some fantastic performers on his own team, especially on defense and special teams.
Midway through the second quarter, South sophomore Dziugas Meilutis, known to his teammates as “J.J.,” recovered a fumble that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by senior “Wildcat” quarterback Justin Hutchins.
“That changed the game right there,” Hutchins said. “That changed the momentum.”
Hutchins gave his team even more momentum with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter, when he scored his second touchdown. He did so on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, pumping his legs hard enough to reach the ball across the goal line for a 21-10 lead.
“That ‘Wildcat,’ we’ve been working on that all year,” Hutchins said. “Any time we’re on the goal line, we punch it in. I couldn’t let my team down. I had to reach the ball across the goal line.”
Redhead called that touchdown another game-changer.
“It took us four downs to get it in, but that was a heads up play,” Redhead said. “He drove his legs and got in. That helped open up the game.”
LG: Beckly Njoh 37 FG
SFM: Justin Hutchins 1 run (Jacob Althouse kick)
SFM: Teh’Ron Fuller 50 interception return (Althouse kick)
LG: Sammie Jackson 5 pass from Trey Congdon (Njoh kick)
SFM: Hutchins 3 run (Althouse kick)
LG: Shaquan Perkins 6 pass from Congdon (pass failed)
SFM: Fuller 65 interception return (Althouse kick)