PORT ST. JOE – The host Tiger Sharks had a handle on the game in the first half, but Blountstown swiped it back in the second.
In a physical contest in which neither team managed 150 yards of total offense, Blountstown made several huge second-half plays to secure a 14-6 win in the District 2-1A opener for both teams Friday night.
“I am proud of the kids, but disappointed for them because when you play that hard you would like to win,” said Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon. “They have to learn to finish. We are playing some good teams early in the season and we are just not learning how to finish.
“We’re getting down in scoring position. We are creating chances. We are just not finishing. That is something we have to learn to do.”
Both defenses were outstanding, particularly the Tiger Sharks (1-2 overall) in the opening half.
With two weeks to prepare, Port St. Joe tossed schemes and formations at the Tigers (3-1 overall) they had not shown before, said Blountstown coach Greg Jordan.
Blountstown managed just 19 total offensive yards in the first half and finished with 143 offensive yards, less than 100 on the ground.
“It’s a win but we sure had to earn it,” Jordan said. “They showed some things we had never seen on film and we were confused early in the game. In the end, we didn’t have many offensive yards but we made enough big plays to make the difference.
“You have to give credit to Port St. Joe. No matter how much you tell the kids how physical a Blountstown-Port St. Joe game is, they have to play it to understand.”
The Tiger Sharks, who actually outgained Blountstown by 5 yards, came up with the first key play of the game, on special teams.
Dusty Richter barreled in from the right side on a fourth-down punt and managed, with help from the up blocker who Richter pushed through on his way to the punter, to block the punt.
Ramello Zaccarro scooped up the ball at the Tiger 27 and was untouched on his way to the end zone. A pass was incomplete on the extra point try and it was 6-0.
The Tigers entered Port St. Joe territory just twice in the first half, once courtesy a roughing the kicker penalty, and could get no closer than the Tiger Shark 37.
Port St. Joe also had two forays into enemy territory, but one ended on downs and another on a fumbled snap.
The Tiger Sharks seemed to grab momentum when Jarkeice Davis (a game-high 80 rushing yards) recovered an onside kick to start the second half.
But Port St. Joe turned it over on downs at the Tiger 38, one of four times the Tiger Sharks were in Blountstown territory in the second half, the deepest penetration the 28, without coming away with points.
On its second possession of the half, the Tigers struck for the biggest play of the game when quarterback Hunter Jordan found Ryan Hathcox with inside position on a 32-yard post pattern for a touchdown, the extra point kick putting the Tigers ahead to stay.
They added an insurance touchdown early in the fourth quarter when on a fourth-and-goal from the 8, Hunter Jordan scrambled out trouble in the pocket and finessed his way just inside the left corner of the end zone.
The extra point made it 14-6 with 6:24 to play.
Blountstown is off next week while Port St. Joe hosts Holmes County.