The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School football team gave everything state Class 1A top-ranked and host Baker could handle before losing 27-21.
The win advanced Baker to this Saturday’s championship game of the Sunshine State Conference North League where Blountstown, the conference’s top seed awaits.
Baker is the No. 2 seed in the conference despite its position atop the writers’ poll.
Port St. Joe (4-5) will close out the regular season 8 p.m. ET Friday at Vernon.
Win or lose it appears that Port St. Joe will advance to the Florida High School Athletics Association playoffs scheduled to begin Nov. 8.
Port St. Joe is likely to be playing Bozeman, said Port St. Joe coach Greg Jordan, but the site has yet to be determined.
One certainty is that Port St. Joe will enter Friday’s regular-season finale playing nearly as well as the Tiger Sharks have all year.
In the conference tournament opener they felled No. 3 seed Sneads in overtime and last week played Baker on even terms to the final buzzer, with a chance to score late nullified by a penalty.
“The win-loss record, it is what it is,” Jordan said. “We have played better in the playoffs.
“We could have won that (Baker) game. We just had some self-inflicted wounds.”
Down 6-0, a bungled punt turned into a Baker safety and Baker later added a 36-yard scoring pass and two long touchdown runs, 55 and 81 yards, respectively, the latter giving Baker the 27-21 lead with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter.
“We basically were very generous with the football,” Jordan said. “We could have won the game.
“We played extremely hard we just didn’t execute every play. You can’t beat a team like Baker unless you execute for all four quarters.”
Down 8-0 in the second quarter, Port St. Joe drove 30 yards in seven plays for a 4-yard touchdown run by Bubba Ash; Ash added the extra point run to make it 8-8.
Baker scored on a long pass just before the half to regain the lead at 15-8, but just after the half the Tiger Sharks marched 55 yards in four plays, the final play a 4-yard touchdown run by Davien Welch.
Christian Logan hit the extra point kick and it was 15-15 early in the third period.
That lasted less than a minute as Baker scored on a long run to make it 21-15 after the extra point was no good.
Quarterback Colin Amison’s sneak from the 1 finished an 82-yard, nine-play Port St. Joe drive, Logan missing on the extra point to knot the score at 21-21 with 3:30 to play in the third period.
Baker scored the winning touchdown less than two minutes later.
Baker rushed for 235 yards and passed for another 36 while holding Port St. Joe to 198 rushing yards and another 50 in the air.
Port St. Joe enjoyed a 52-40 advantage in offensive plays and was also plus-3 in turnovers.
But, Port St. Joe also had 10 penalties for 88 yards.
Ash led the Tiger Sharks with 73 rushing yards on 10 carries and Kelvin Griffin added 63 yards on 11 carries.
Davien Welch rushed seven times for 56 yards.
Welch also had two receptions for 30 yards.
Amison was 3 of 13 for 50 yards.