TORNADOES 27 PIRATES 26

GULFPORT – Clearwater may be better known for its offensive prowess, but it was the defense that stepped up when it mattered most Friday night.

Down 27-26 with seconds remaining and inside the Tornadoes 5-yard line, Boca Ciega opted to go for the end zone. The Pirates (6-3, 3-1) called up a quarterback draw for sophomore Taffrey Peterman, but Clearwater was all over it. Defensive lineman Tim Williams shot through the line and brought Peterman down to end the game and put Clearwater (6-2, 4-0) atop the Class 6A District 9 standings.

“They’re a [heck] of a team,” Tornadoes quarterback Rent Montie said of Boca Ciega. “It came to the very end and the defense stood tall. We’ve been working on it so much and the defense is so improved since the beginning of the year.”

For Boca Ciega, special teams giveth and special teams taketh away.

The Pirates’ first two scores of the night came courtesy of a blocked punt by Adrian Floyd returned for a touchdown by Evan Graham and an 80-yard kick return by Alfonso Franklin.

But after Graham’s scoring play was capped with a failed extra-point attempt, Boca Ciega abandoned the kicking game all-together. Down one point late, a chip-shot field goal would have given the Pirates the win and a stranglehold on the District 6A-9 championship.

It’s Clearwater in the driver’s seat now, but the Pirates aren’t out of the mix. The Tornadoes go to Largo (6-2, 3-1) next week. Win and Clearwater takes the league. Lose and it’s a three-way tie, assuming Bogie takes care of Dixie Hollins next week.

“This was make-or-break for us,” Montie said. “This was basically a playoff game for us. If we didn’t win this, there’s a possible chance for a three-way tie for the district if we get lucky. But we took care of business and have to take care of business next week against Largo to solidify the district.”

Clearwater’s 6-foot-3 junior quarterback and his arsenal of explosive weapons rebounded nicely from early miscues to pile up more than 500 yards of total offense. Montie ended his night 16 of 32 for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The final scoring play came with 9:21 left and proved to be the game-winner. Montie dropped back on third-and-goal from the Boca Ciega 9 and drilled a pass to Keedrik Murray in the middle of the end zone.

Murray may have had the most impressive all-around game of the night Friday. The junior caught five passes for a game-high 137 yards and two touchdowns and also took a handoff from Montie and connected deep to Marquvion Jeter for a 70-yard score late in the third quarter.

Jeter caught six passes for 130 yards and the score and running back Qwa’shaun Perry pounded out 113 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Boca Ciega took a 12-7 lead into halftime and led throughout most of the game.

After Clearwater linebacker Anthony Hope ended Bogie’s opening drive of the second half by recording his second interception of the night, Perry broke free for an 18-yard touchdown run on the next snap to give the Tornadoes a 14-12 lead. That didn’t last long. The Pirates scored the next two touchdowns – a 1-yard run by Chris Phillips and a 60-yard hookup between Peterman and Deven Foster.

Peterman finished with 147 yards on 16 of 30 passing, a touchdown and two picks. Foster grabbed a game-high eight passes for 133 yards and the touchdown and Franklin ran for 148 yards on 17 touches.

The 26-14 advantage provided by Foster’s 60-yard reception represented the largest of the night for either team, but Clearwater cut right back into it on its next play from scrimmage – Murray’s 70-yard bomb to Jeter.

Clearwater coach Don Mesick didn’t downplay the importance of Friday night’s victory and how it was earned against a quality opponent.

“We knew it was going to be extremely close,” he said. “Their offense is extremely explosive. We’ve seen what they’ve been able to do against a lot of teams.

“Our defense is really, really playing well. I feel like if we can continue to do that and continue to play offense the way we anticipate without the mistakes we made early on tonight, we can be a tough team to beat.”

SCORING:

CW - 0 – 7 – 14 – 6 --- 27

BC - 0 – 12 – 14 – 0 --- 26

BC – E. Graham blocked punt return. Kick fail – 2nd Q (10:47)

CW – K. Murray 65-yard pass from Montie. Kick (Ortega) – 2nd Q (2:48)

BC – Franklin 81-yard kick return. 2-pt. fail – 2nd Q (2:34)

CW – Perry 18-yard run. Kick (Ortega) – 3rd Q (10:40)

BC – Phillips 1-yard run. 2 pt. fail – 3rd Q (8:36)

BC – Foster 60-yard pass from Peterman. 2 pt. run – 3rd Q (1:55)

CW – Marq. Jeter 70-yard pass from K. Murray. Kick (Ortega) – 3rd Q (1:35)

CW – K. Murray 9-yard pass from Montie. 2 pt. fail – 4th Q (9:21)

TEAM STATS:

----------------------CW------- BC

First Downs----------15---------20

Atts./Rush Yds.---38-143----42-179

Comp./Atts./Int.---17-33-2----16-30-2

Passing Yds.--------368-------147

Net Yards-----------511-------326

Fumbles/Lost-------3-2-------2-2

Punts/Avg.---------5-30.4---5-42.8

Penalties----------16-139-------9-65

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

RUSHING

CW – Perry (19-113, TD), Bradley (6-16), Marc. Jeter (8-12).

BC – Franklin (17-148), Phillips (12-30, TD).

PASSING

CW – Montie (16-32 for 298, 2 TD, 2 INT), K. Murray (1-1 for 70, TD).

BC – Peterman (16-30 for 147, TD, 2 INT).

RECEIVING

CW – K. Murray (5-137, 2 TD), Marq. Jeter (6-130 TD), Smith (2-25).

BC – Foster (8-133, TD), Cutliff (4-57), Phillips (2-31).

PINELLAS SCORES

East Lake 20 St. Pete 17 OT

Newsome 49 PHU 16

P. Park 62 Dunedin 0

C-Side 37 Seminole 7

Lake Gibson 21 Gibbs 6

Largo 49 Northeast 21

Dixie 34 Osceola 0

CCC 14 Jesuit 6

Calvary 48 CDS 14

SPC 27 Out-of-Door 14

Keswick 47 N-Side Christ 39

Farragut 63 St. Francis 8

St. Stephen’s 35 IRC 0

C-Water Acad. 52 Frostproof 7

PASCO SCORES

River Ridge 63 Hudson 0

Anclote 40 Gulf 7

Mitchell 35 Sunlake 0

Z-Hills 48 Wesley Chapel 0

LOL 49 Pasco 18

Springstead 54 Cypress Creek 7

Wiregrass 49 Leto 0

Z-Hills Christ. 26 Fort Meade 14

Windermere Prep 54 Bishop 6