CHIPLEY — Chipley rushed for 368 yards to overcome Port St. Joe 28-16 Friday at Philip Rountree Stadium in a nondistrict Class 1A game between teams with playoff aspirations.
Kobe McCrary rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and Darren Stewart added 165 yards and a TD on only seven attempts for the Tigers, 3-1. The Tiger Sharks dropped to 3-2.
The victory wasn’t secured until Chipley rallied from a 16-14 deficit with the final two touchdowns. The Tigers’ defense also played a major role, stopping Port St. Joe inside the Tigers’ 10 on the opening possession of the game.
Port St. Joe’s Dewayne Griggs, Jasmin Thomas and Aaron Paul combined to roll up 45 yards following a 30-yard kickoff return by Griggs.
But Chipley recovered a Port St. Joe fumble inside the 10.
“We did a good job offensively,” said Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon of his Tiger Sharks who amassed 292 total yards. “But we had a couple of mistakes that hurt us.”
A holding penalty negated a 60-yard run by McCrary and neither team was able to do much damage the remainder of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with Port St. Joe’s Thomas scrambling with a fake punt on fourth-and-5 to the Chipley 12.
Again the Tigers’ defense held, and a field goal by Port St. Joe’s Drew Lacour gave the Tiger Sharks a 3-0 edge.
Stewart produced a 67-yard sprint on Chipley’s next series to the Port St. Joe 5. McCrary went up the middle for the touchdown and Chipley led 6-3 lead with 8:59 left in the half.
“That’s a tough place to play,” Gannon said. “They use McCrary, who is a big back, and then they come back with a scat back. They are a tough team to defend.
“But I thought we played hard all night. Overall we played well as a team, again.”
Port St. Joe went three-and-out and punted the ball back to Chipley. The Tigers took over at their 47 and within six plays were threatening. McCrary had a key run inside the 20 and Zack Campbell went the final 7 yards to score. McCrary’s conversion made it 14-3 with 4:23 left in the second quarter.
The Sharks responded by driving 66 yards in eight plays, Griggs (a team-high 108 rushing yards and 16 total tackles) finding the end zone on a sweep from the 4.
Lacour’s point-after was blocked and the Sharks had closed to 14-9. McCrary had a 42-yard run shortly before intermission, but Port St. Joe held him out of the end zone at the 2 on the final play of the half.
The Tigers Sharks reclaimed the lead on their first possession of the third quarter. A nine-play, 50-yard drive culminated in Paul (98 rushing yards) scoring from the 5 and Lacour’s kick made it 16-14.
The lead was short-lived.
Twenty-five seconds later Stewart ran 70 yards to put the Tigers back on top and McCrary’s second conversion made it 22-16. With 4:18 to play McCrary broke free from a swarm of Port St. Joe defenders at the 50 and went the distance to punctuate a hard-fought triumph.
Port St. Joe hosts Franklin County for Homecoming this week. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET. This is Port St. Joe’s first district game.
Star News Editor Tim Croft contributed to this report