Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon praised his team for playing three-and-a-half tough quarters.
Those final minutes, however, were game-changers.
The host Tiger Sharks (1-1) played the bigger, faster, deeper Bay Tornadoes (2-0) to a near-draw during the first three periods but seemed to run out of steam in the final quarter in losing 19-0 at Shark Field.
Neither team managed much offense but the Tornadoes converted the few opportunities provided to escape with a win in a contest far closer than the score.
“This is about what I expected,” Bay coach Jimmy Longerbeam said. “We saw on film that they are a well-coached team that plays hard. They played very hard. Take your hat off to them.”
One week after the Tiger Sharks rolled up more than 400 yards of total offense, the teams could not combine for that amount.
Bay totaled 293 yards, 88 of that coming on 27 tough carries by Raekwon Webb.
Quarterback Xavier Longerbeam passed for 183 yards, 96 on a single play in the fourth quarter.
“We played hard, lights out,” Gannon said. “We made them earn everything they got. We played hard, physical football. I am happy for the kids.”
Port St. Joe never found any offensive rhythm, particularly the two times they had the ball in Bay territory with a chance to strike.
The Tiger Sharks rushed for 44 yards and added just 14 in the air.
“We played great defense,” Longerbeam said. “We were in the red zone a couple of times and they made the plays, so credit to them. We came out healthy and came out with a win. We just need to keep rolling ahead.”
In a first half dominated by punt teams, Port St. Joe had the first chance when a fumbled snap on a Bay punt put the Tiger Sharks in business at the Tornado 16.
Port St. Joe could go nowhere — a slant pass from Drew Lacour to Dwayne Griggs inside the 5 was broken up — and Bay stopped Port St. Joe on downs.
An 8-yard punt by Griggs — who would leave the game in the third quarter with a concussion after a violent collision while on defense — just past the midpoint in the second quarter gave Bay its first scoring opportunity.
The Tornadoes took over at the Tiger Shark 23 and Webb picked up the yardage in three carries, scoring from the 4. The extra point by Blake Whitmire made it 7-0.
At halftime, the teams had combined for just 104 yards.
The theme continued through the first nine minutes of the second half before Bay took over at its 27.
The Tornadoes, with Port St. Joe appearing to tire slightly, marched 73 yards in 14 plays, consuming 7:12 of the clock.
Webb slipped outside and through two tacklers on a 15-yard jaunt to score; the extra point was off and it was 13-0.
Port St. Joe was three-and-out before a wild series of plays led to Bay’s final touchdown.
The Tornadoes failed to move and faced a third-and-11 at their 23. A middle screen from the younger Longerbeam to Markeis Goodman appeared to break wide open for the touchdown, but the play was called back for an illegal block.
Bay also was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for protesting the call.
From the 4, Longerbeam found Michael Layfield in the deep middle of the field. Layfield turned outside past his defender and was gone for a 96-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was off the mark again.
“We had a couple of series where we probably needed to score because we weren’t going to get many chances against them,” Gannon said. “We played hard for three-and-a-half quarters and we just kind of died a little at the end.
“But we had guys playing offense, defense, special teams, who didn’t come off the field. I thought we played really hard.”