The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School football jumped to an early two touchdown lead last Friday night but could not hold on in 29-20 loss to host Springfield Rutherford.
The game was played in the newly-refurbished Tommy Oliver Stadium in Panama City and was the third consecutive road contest for the Tiger Sharks (2-3) as well as the third time in the past four weeks they faced a Class 4A opponent.
And once again, the Tiger Sharks enjoyed a statistical advantage.
Port St. Joe returns to Class 1A competition when the Tiger Sharks are back home 7:30 p.m. ET Friday at Shark Stadium.
Port St. Joe notched the first score of the game late in the first quarter after an early 51-yard drive in seven plays went for naught following a missed field goal.
Kelvin Griffin got Port St. Joe on the board after he carried over from the 2 to complete a 55-yard drive in 10 plays; Christian Logan added the extra point and it was 7-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Port St. Joe quarterback Colin Amison found Damarion Gray for a 15-yard touchdown pass and Logan made it 14-0.
The touchdown finished a 58-yard drive which consumed seven plays.
But in the last four minutes of the first half, Rutherford scored twice, on a 27-yard touchdown pass and a 10-yard run, a two-point conversion after the latter score knotting the game at 14-14 just before halftime.
A touchdown pass and two-point conversion early in the third quarter put Rutherford up for the first time 22-14.
Port St. Joe responded with a 64-yard drive covering seven plays, Aiden Gainer completing the march with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The two point conversion failed.
And Rutherford put the game on ice late in the final quarter an Amison fumble was recovered and returned for a 28-yard Rutherford touchdown.
Port St. Joe enjoyed a 330-156 advantage in net offensive yardage.
As with last week against South Walton, after dominating time of possession in the first half, the Tiger Sharks lost the time-of-possession battle in the second half.
Bubba Ash paced Port St. Joe on the ground with 106 yards on 16 carries.
In addition to his touchdown, Griffin added 72 rushing yards on eight carries and Gray added 43 yards on six carries as well as 45 yards on two receptions.
Gainer added 23 yards rushing and also led the defense with nine tackles.
Amison was 6 of 9 passing for 50 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
The Tiger Sharks twice turned the ball over via fumbles.