BAYSHORE GARDENS -- Wesley Jackson danced from the pocket, eluding would-be tacklers and shifting sides of the field before uncorking a heave while running or just tucking the ball and plodding forward himself.
Those were the good things that came from Bayshore's Senior Night football game against Class 5A-District 10 rival Wauchula Hardee on Friday at Balvanz Stadium.
However, they didn't add up enough as the Wildcats pummeled the Bruins 46-13 behind a ferocious running attack that tallied 371
yards on the ground.
"They just beat us down," Bayshore head coach Elijah Freeman said. "They're a big, physical team and they did a great job grinding it down. But I do think they prepared for us well. They saw what we like to do, and our outside guys spill that counter block and they noticed that."
The key to Hardee's victory came with a second quarter barrage where the Wildcats scored at will, racking up 26 points and securing a 33-6 halftime advantage.
That left the Bruins (2-6 overall, 1-2 district) climbing an uphill battle that was steeper than Mount Everest.
And with Southeast staying unbeaten with a victory at Arcadia DeSoto, the playoff chances for Bayshore dwindled with the defeat.
Mathematically, the Bruins still have a possibility, needing to win at Sarasota Booker while getting help from the other remaining league games to bounce their way for a potential Monday tiebreaker at the end of the season.
"That was definitely a tough loss for us," Freeman said. "Some wacky things have to happen for us to get a shot to get back into this thing."
Bayshore's defense did produce two first-half interceptions as the Wildcats (6-1, 2-0), a traditional run-heavy offense, slung the ball more than usual.
Freeman said Hardee is a solid 5A team, and is looking to make a deep playoff run.
To do so, Freeman added, the Wildcats have adopted a more balanced offense this season.
On Friday, Hardee didn't need major passing yards with quarterback Kris Johnson (11 carries, 125 yards) partnering with the tailback combo of Timmy Steedley (18 carries, 140 yards) and Keyonte Holley (eight carries, 64 yards) to produce a punishing ground game.
All three players combined to produce all seven Hardee touchdowns.
However, there were a couple bright moments for the Bayshore faithful with Jackson demonstrating some athletic plays and giving the home fans two quick touchdown passes to cheer about.
First, it was a 60-yard strike over the middle to Tyler Bond, who darted away from the Hardee defense to find paydirt with 5:46 remaining in the first half.
Then it was Jackson's throw on the run about midway through the third quarter that Zach Stuber juggled over his Hardee defender for the other Bayshore touchdown.
Bond finished with five catches for 101 yards, while Stuber added four receptions for 87 yards.
"My line did as much as they could," Jackson said. "God blessed me with moving around the pocket. So I just got away and made plays when I could."
The Bruins now begin a short week as they visit Booker on Thursday.