TORNADOES 38 PATRIOTS 24

PINELLAS PARK – After 24 minutes of game time, loss No. 3 in a row looked inevitable.

Nothing was going Clearwater’s way and Pinellas Park was gaining confidence. A lot of it. The type of confidence that comes with a 24-0 halftime lead.

“We had made about every mistake you could possibly make,” Clearwater coach Don Mesick said. “We turned the ball over a couple times, we gave them short fields.”

Trouble came quick. Clearwater fumbled away the first play from scrimmage and Pinellas Park running back Lawrance Toafili ran in the game’s first touchdown seven snaps later from 12 yards out.

The Tornadoes helped Pinellas Park find the end zone again in the first quarter by extending a drive with two penalties. One was a roughing the punter flag that came after the defense forced a three-and-out.

The Patriots tacked on 10 more points in the second quarter. Kicker Robert Gunn nailed a 37-yard field goal and Pinellas Park turned the Tornadoes’ second turnover of the half – a Cody Willoughby interception – into another touchdown.

The Patriots only outgained Clearwater 138-106 in the first half, but they outscored their guest 24-0 where it mattered most.

Clearwater entered Friday on a two-game skid. It lost a tough 21-14 decision to Largo followed by a 48-42 overtime thriller to Clearwater Central Catholic last week. Anticipating a third straight defeat and letting negative thoughts completely sabotage Friday night’s second half could have easily occurred, and Mesick was looking for it.

“We’ve matured an awful lot,” Mesick said. “I told them tonight that this game wasn’t necessarily a critical game for the playoffs, but I was going to be watching our team to see how we were going to react to adversity. Unfortunately, we got more adversity than we probably wanted, but the kids reacted the way we had hoped they would react. They are absolutely, positively not going to quit.”

Quit, they did not.

The Tornadoes defense set the second-half tone by forcing Pinellas Park to punt after five plays. Then quarterback Rent Montie took over. The senior completed 6 of 6 pass attempts on a seven-play drive that ended with him dropping a 25-yard dime into the hands of Marquvion Jeter.

Clearwater went for two, got it, then forced a Pinellas Park turnover two plays later. Three plays after that, Marcus Jeter ran a 6-yard touchdown and the Tornadoes got another two-point conversion.

All of a sudden a blowout turned into a one-possession game: Pinellas Park 24 Clearwater 16.

The tying score came midway through the final quarter and was sparked by Marquvion Jeter’s 74-yard punt return to the Patriots 6. Clearwater went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3 and Montie hit Cardrece Mobley in the middle of the end zone. A Montie-to-Mobley two-point pass play tied the game 24-24.

“A lot of clutch plays were made down the stretch by a lot of different players,” Mesick said. “It wasn’t just one guy. I know everybody wants to focus on (Keedrik Murray) and he’s a tremendous player, but we have a lot of other guys who made an awful lot of catches and big plays tonight.”

The defense stepped up with the game’s next splash play with Matthew Nieves jumped on a Pinellas Park fumble at midfield two snaps after Clearwater tied the game.

The Tornadoes took their first lead by going on a clock-draining 14-play drive that included a fair share of controversy.

As Clearwater got into Patriots territory, tempers flared after a short completion from Montie to Mobley. Multiple personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties followed, including the ejection of Mobley. Most of the infractions were against Clearwater and as game officials pushed the Tornadoes line of scrimmage back to their side of the 50, they also moved the chains. Rather than facing a first-and-very-long situation, Clearwater faced first-and-10 from its own 40. The Tornadeos converted on the next play and continued to drive until Latrez Bradley ran in a 5-yard touchdown with 41 seconds remaining on the clock.

Clearwater iced the win on Pinellas Park’s next play from scrimmage. Senior Chendrick Cann jumped in front of a pass and took it to the house.

Final score: Clearwater 38 Pinellas Park 24.

Montie finished his night 25 of 33 passing for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 15 of 18 attempts for 143 yards in the second half.

Marquvion Jeter led all receivers with eight catches for 98 yards and a score.

Toafili, Pinellas County’s top running back, rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Completely shutting down the senior FSU commit is never likely, Mesick said, but he was happy with how his defense kept him from taking over.

“We have a lot of fast players on our team,” Mesick said, “so our hope was to not let him get started because once he gets going he can really make some guys miss.”

Pinellas Park’s three-game winning streak came to an end Friday and the Patriots will try to bounce back next week at home against Class 7A District 9 foe Sunlake.

Clearwater also gets back into District 6A-7 play next week, heading to in-town rival Countryside.

SCORING:

CW - 0 – 0 – 16 – 22 --- 38

PP - 14 – 10 – 0 – 0 --- 24

PP – Toafili 12-yard run. Kick (Gunn) – 1st Q (9:05)

PP – Kier 11-yard run. Kick (Gunn) – 1st Q (1:14)

PP – Gunn 37-yard FG – 2nd Q (2:50)

PP – Brearley 1-yard run. Kick (Gunn) – 2nd Q (0:38)

CW – Marq. Jeter 25-yard pass from Montie. 2-pt. pass – 3rd Q (6:27)

CW – Marc. Jeter 6-yard run. 2-pt. run – 3rd Q (5:16)

CW – Mobley 3-yard pass from Montie. 2-pt. pass – 4th Q (6:35)

CW – Murray 5-yard run. Kick (Ortega) – 4th Q (0:41)

CW – Cann 16-yard INT return. Kick (Ortega) – 4th Q (0:29)

TEAM STATS:

----------------------CW------- PP

First Downs----------14---------13

Atts./Rush Yds.---21-60----42-179

Comp./Atts./Int.---25-33-1----3-5-1

Passing Yds.--------237-------18

Net Yards----------297-------197

Fumbles/Lost-------2-1-------5-2

Punts/Avg.---------3-33.0---3-40.0

Penalties----------13-145-------6-60

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

RUSHING

CW – Marc. Jeter (11-48, TD), Bradley (5-5, TD).

PP – Toafili (25-124, TD), Kier (4-21, TD), Holston (3-24).

PASSING

CW – Montie (25-33 for 237, 2 TD, INT).

PP – Brearley (3-5 for 18, INT).

RECEIVING

CW – Marq. Jeter (8-98, TD), Mobley (7-40, TD), Murray (6-54).

PP – Toafili (2-15).

PINELLAS SCORES

Bogie 62 C-Side 20

Northeast 42 Dunedin 12

PHU 19 Osceola 8

St. Pete 42 Tarpon 0

Calvary 46 CDS 0

Jesuit 42 CCC 19

Dixie 41 Seminole 20

Lakewood 38 Sebring 0

First Baptist 42 SPC 17

IRC 20 Shorecrest 7

Keswick 20 All Saints’ 2

N-Side Christ 47 Out-of-Door 27

CAI 14 Atlantic 9 (Thurs.)

PASCO SCORES

Weeki 28 Anclote 6

River Ridge 42 Nature Coast 28

Wesley Chapel 14 Fivay 10

Z-Hills Christ 22 Hudson 16

Z-Hills 44 Sunlake 22

Cypress Creek 24 Mulberry 6

Ocala Forest 12 Pasco 7

Santa Fe 47 Bish McL 9