It was another play to Palmetto High School running back Elijah Davis.
To everyone else on Friday, it was the play.
Davis took a handoff, ran forward and looked like he was tackled for a minimal gain when a swarm of Southeast Seminoles grabbed hold.
But Davis wasn’t down. Instead, his legs kept motoring and he shimmied his way through the crowd.
Once he got back to a fully upright stance, offensive lineman Eriq Porter pushed Davis a little, too, and he jetted 42 yards before getting wrestled down.
Two plays later, the Tigers (2-1) cashed in with a game-winning score en route to a 20-9 victory at Harllee Stadium.
“I guess it seemed pretty big, because everybody was congratulating me, but for me, it just felt like another play,” Davis said. “Because I have to keep going, keep doing what I’ve gotta do to help my team win.”
Davis is one of several running backs in the Palmetto’s offensive arsenal, and he didn’t receive a carry until the fourth quarter. Two short-yardage runs set up his pivotal fourth-quarter gallop inside the red zone that the Tigers capitalized on.
“I just look at the defense, look at the strength and weaknesses, point out everything that I’ve seen on film and I just trying to execute what’s in my mind,” said Davis on what he does waiting to get into the game.
Tigers head coach Dave Marino said Davis’ heads-up decision-making to stay moving is something he’s constantly doing.
“I pay attention in the classroom, pay attention in practice, pay attention to film and pay attention in the game,” Davis said. “That’s how it is and that’s how it always has to be.”
For the first two quarters on Friday, it was a defensive battle as both teams limited what the other club’s offense tried to do. Southeast, behind two big passing plays on its final first-half offensive series, managed 93 total yards in the opening two quarters. Palmetto, which played on short rest after Monday’s 7-3 loss to Manatee, was limited to 36 total yards during that period.
“That’s the strength of our team,” said Marino about his defense.
The Seminoles (0-2) had a shot at tying the game going into halftime, but Palmetto’s Travontae Thompskin blocked Julio Martinez’s 21-yard field goal as time expired.
Southeast head coach Rashad West said it was disappointing to have the field goal blocked, but they didn’t go into halftime with their heads down. West added they were still in it.
The back-breaker, though, came later with Davis’ run that set up Johnny Jones’ 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter followed by Mike Collins’ 32-yard pick six with 5:56 remaining.
That gave Palmetto a 20-3 lead Southeast couldn’t overcome. The Noles did see Alex Taylor connect with Terrance Pryor Jr. for a 35-yard touchdown pass late in the game for their lone touchdown.
“That kind of blew it open for them a little bit, we came back and turn it over,” West said. “That kind of made us have to start to playing with a sense of urgency. It’s kind of a tough game up to that point.”
Palmetto 20, Southeast 9
S—Julio Martinez 37 field goal, 2:32
P—Jason Spicer 1 run (Freddie Manriquez kick), 1:47
P—Johnny Jones 5 run (Manriquez kick), 7:46
P—Mike Collins 32 interception return (Manriquez kick), 5:56
S—Terrance Pryor Jr. 35 pass from Alex Taylor (Kick failed), 3:33
Rushing: Southeast 21-45: Latrell Peavy 17-92, Tristian Hernadez 7-(-14), Taylor 5-(-31), Clyde Townsend 1-(-2), Kam’ron Green 1-0. Palmetto 37-147: Corian Brown 3-7, Spicer 12-13, Elso Garcia 2-10, Jones 9-42, Sidney Pompey Jr. 1-0, Elijah Davis 10-75.
Passing: Southeast 9-15-1, 127: Hernadez 2-4-0, (-1), Taylor 7-11-1, 128. Palmetto 7-11-0, 40: Spicer 7-11-0, 40.
Receiving: Southeast 9-127: Pryor Jr. 4-49, Tyler Stevenson 3-34, Bradley Tresalus 1-35, Qion Burch 1-9. Palmetto 7-40: Pompey Jr. 2-7, Garcia 2-(-2), Jacob Sullivan 1-6, Reggie White 2-29.