Five years after Port St. Joe last visited Franklin County, the Tiger Sharks picked up where they left off, handing the Seahawks a 42-6 drubbing Friday night.
It wasn’t without a fight, and up until a couple-minutes left in the first half, it looked like it might go down to the wire.
The first quarter had been scoreless, with sophomore quarterbacks Dakota Quinn and Colin Amison sharing snaps for the Tiger Sharks, and junior quarterback Lamarius Martin, Amison’s teammate last year, directing the Seahawk offense.
The Seahawk defensive pressure sacked Amison twice in the first quarter, stymying the Tiger Sharks attempts to enter the red zone. With 9:46 left in the half, Martin rushed 84 yards from scrimmage for the opening score.
The Tiger Sharks came back four minutes later, when senior running back Bubba Ash punched it in from the 6 yard line. Port St. Joe feigned a try at kicking the extra point, as holder senior Kelvin Griffin ran it in for two, and held an 8-6 lead.
But then witha little more than two minutes left before halftime, Port St Joe scored twice to head into the locker room with a 21-6 margin.
Griffin ran it in from the 4, and then with 21 seconds left on the ensuing kickoff, Martin had the ball jarred loose at midfield, Port St. Joe recovered, and a subsequent 18-yard pass from Amison to Griffin, and a successful extra point by senior Christian Logan, had exploded the game in Port St. Joe’s favor.
“For some reason they did put a second back on the board,” said Seahawk coach Josh Palmer. “You gotta be better than the refs, though, so the refs aren’t a factor.”
The score remained unchanged for the entire third quarter, and that is where Palmer thinks the game was decided.
“It was a well-fought game between both teams,” he said. “We were in it until the third quarter. We had a good drive going, and Monk (Lamarius Martin) rolled out, and when he got put the ball on the ground he fumbled. It wasn’t a fumble because the ground can’t cause a fumble.”
With six minutes left in the game, Tiger Shark senior Demarion Gray sprinted 47 yards for the score, making it 28-6.
A fumble by Seahawk junior Eden Brathwaite led to a Tiger Shark score a half-minute later, when Arden Wiser scooped and scored it from the 15, and another Seahawk fumble, with three minutes left in the game, set up a two-yard run and the sixth and final touchdown for St. Joe, by sophomore runner Aiden Gainer.
“We did have a lot offensive turnovers, we can’t have offensive turnovers,” said Palmer. “This is the first night we had a bunch of turnovers like that. We don’t have that turnover (in the third quarter) we go down and finish that drive, and it’s a whole new ball game.
“Our kids still were battling hard, they executed very well and were able to finish off the ball game,” he said.
“Overall I was really proud of our kids and the way they handled the game,” said Palmer. “We played this game not at our best, with turnovers and missed tackles. We held it together and they finished that game with class. You got to hold your head high.”
Palmer said he spoke after the game with Amison, who played for the Seahawks last year. “He’s a great kid. He did a great job at quarterback and did what he needed to be successful,” he said.
Amison finished 7 for 9 from the air, with one TD pass, and Quinn 2 for 3 for 10 yards, and six carries for 32 yards. Gray and Griffin each carried the ball nine times, for 76 and 63 yards respectively, and each caught two passes. Overall the Tiger Sharks gained 333 yards, 283 of them on the ground.
For the Seahawks, Martin completed 4 of 9 passes for 61 yards, and one interception. He also was the team's leading rusher, with 12 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Larry Winchester caught four passes for 62 yards, and carried the ball nine times for 31 yards. Junior linebacker Charlee Winchester led the team with seven tackles, followed by Brathwaite's five.
The Seahawks are off this Friday due to a bye week, and Palmer plans to take advantage. “We’ll just correct a lot of mistakes,” he said. “We’re so young and just trying to correct mistakes.
“All jobs are open this week, that’s what we’re looking for,” Palmer said, “Next week we’re focusing on going to Sneads Feb. 20 and winning a ball game.
“Everybody’s healthy, a couple bruises here and there but nothing we can’t handle,” he said. “We move forward; we don’t look back.”