PORT ST. JOE _ Less than a minute into the second period Friday afternoon Arnold became just the second team to score on Port St. Joe this season.
With zero time on the clock after four quarters at Shark Stadium, the Tiger Sharks remained unbeaten after rolling past the Marlins (4-3) 34-14 behind a series of big plays and key second-half drive.
But, in reality, which team won, which lost, and final scores meant little; just over two weeks after Hurricane Michael laid waste to Gulf County, Friday football was back.
“It was good to get back out there,” said Port St. Joe coach Greg Jordan. “Today was about more than wins and losses for the kids, the school and the community.
“We represented well. Overall, I was pleased with how we played.”
The Tiger Sharks practiced the Tuesday before the storm and did not come back together until eight days after Michael, for a dinner of grilled hamburgers just to see who had evacuated and whether numbers were sufficient for a team.
And after missing two games, the kickoff for Friday was moved to 4 p.m. to accommodate safe travel for the Marlins and admission was waived.
“We had 35 on the varsity roster and we have 33 kids who are here and want to play,” Jordan said. “They wanted to be out here representing their school and community.”
While there were mistakes borne of inactivity and lack of game action, the Tiger Sharks (7-0 with a trip to North Florida Christian remaining in the regular season) did what needed doing for victory.
They rushed for over 300 yards and ended with 374 total offensive yards.
The defense allowed a touchdown for just the second time this season, and though they limited the Marlins to 240 yards, it was the most yardage Port St. Joe has allowed this season.
Port St. Joe was first on the scoreboard, which was up and running just five minutes before kickoff after rapid repairs, when Josh Butts completed the team’s second possession with a winding 21-yard run.
Butts had a game-high 113 yards rushing and was 3 for 6 for 74 yards with an interception passing.
Joel Bogaert kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 but Arnold responded with a 13-play, 66-yard drive, quarterback Cade Ledman sneaking over from the 1.
An extra point kick knotted the score at 7-7.
It was the last time Arnold sniffed the lead as Cameron Harmon, with two nifty moves to elude tacklers, took the ensuing kickoff back 95 yards for a touchdown.
Bogaert’s extra-point was blocked and it was 13-7.
Arnold answered again, driving from its 14 to the Port St. Joe 33 before the drive stalled, resulting in a 4-yard punt.
Butts carried for 21 yards, Kelvin Griffin 25 yards, Butts added 10 more and two plays later Griffin went 13 yards on a sweep right for the score and Bogaert made it 20-7 just before intermission.
Early in the third quarter, Arnold received the benefit of a short punt, taking over at the Port St. Joe 48.
After a 27-yard pass from Ledman to Thomas Risalvato the Marlins appeared poised to score.
But Risalvato took the ball on an end-around pass play and his pass to Ledman leaking out of the backfield was intercepted by Harmon.
Port St. Joe took over at its 5 and salted away the remaining eight minutes of the third quarter, marching 95 yards in 14 plays.
The touchdown came on a gorgeous misdirection from the 37, the play movement and defense going right while Butts, with no one within 15 yards, sprinting left and scoring easily.
Bogaert made it 27-7 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
After holding Arnold three-and-out, the Tiger Sharks took over at midfield and needed only five plays to add more points on Khayyan Zacarro’s 2-yard run, the key play a 46-yard pass from Butts to Jataevion Reed.
Bogaert made it 34-7.
Arnold scored a meaningless touchdown in the final two minutes, recovering a Port St. Joe fumble in the end zone.