Raymond Thomas used the homecoming stage Friday night to showcase his brilliant running style and incredible speed while pushing his team into the playoffs.
The senior led the Pirates (7-1, 4-1) with 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns en-route to a 42-7 win over Sarasota.
“Our offensive line is incredible, that hole was wide open, I just ran through it,” Thomas said. “There was a lot of hype for me coming into this game, win to get into the playoffs and it being senior night, it’s just going by so fast.”
The Sailors (5-4) started the game with a 10-yard completion on the first play but fumbled the ball and Braden River recovered, leading to Thomas’ 31-yard touchdown run.
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Sarasota’s Bryan Gagg looked good early on, completing nine of his first 10 passes during a 15-play drive, but the Sailors weren’t able to convert on a fourth down and came away with no points.
“You know, we had a drive like that against Venice and we were able to get a touchdown, and I thought we were going to tonight as well,” Sailors head coach Brian Ryals said. “We didn’t get off to a good start, and my guys need that one play to give them a little confidence, but I’m so proud of the way they played and fight they showed.”
The Pirates’ Louis Colosimo completed 13 of 17 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Deshaun Fenwick chipped in 67 yards on seven carries.
“Their defense was so focused on the run, and the linebackers were pressed up, so it opened the passing lanes for me,” Colosimo said. “Tonight was huge for us, great confidence booster going into the playoffs. We know we have one more game, but tonight was a great win.”
Braden River only allowed 178 yards of total offense to the Sailors, forcing a running clock by the fourth quarter.
“Huge credit to our defense tonight, they played extremely well up front and on the back end,” Pirates coach Curt Bradley said. “Sarasota played up tempo, but we were fortunate enough to make the right substitutions and not give up any big plays.”
The Pirates were a late Sailors touchdown away from their fourth shutout of the season. The defense has only allowed 10 points per game, 42 coming two weeks ago against Venice, a team they will likely see come playoff time.
Braden River 42, Sarasota 7
BR— Raymond Thomas 31 run (Tyler McCauley kick), 9:32
BR— Roger Whobrey 8 pass from Louis Colosimo (McCauley kick), 5:00
BR— Thomas 45 run (McCauley kick), 1:38
BR— Thomas 15 run (McCauley kick), 9:14
BR— Taj Speight 45 pass from Colosimo (McCauley kick), 9:45
BR— Cam White 54 run (McCauley kick), 2:53.
S— Isaiah Priester 6 run (Heinlein kick), 4:25
Rushing: Sarasota: Bryan Gagg 6-15, Davis Gurr 2-12, Xakari Hawkins 4-26, Jaquan Johnson 1-2, Charles Ward 1-6 Totals: 14-51. Braden River: Thomas 11-146, Deshaun Fenwick 7-64, White 1-55, Totals: 19-264.
Passing: Sarasota: Robbie Peterson 14-21-2-127, Hawkins 2-3-0-15 Totals 16-24-2-142. Braden River: Colosimo 13-17-2-172.
Receiving: Sarasota: Julian Cupo 1-10, Hawkins 6-54, Deric DuBose 4-55, Gurr 3-6, Dyshone Hayes 1-7, Charles Ward 1-10, Totals: 16-142. Braden River: Travis Tobey 5-82, Whobrey 1-7, Craivon Koonce 2-13, Daveon Wortham 2-17, Fenwick 1-12, Speight 2-51, Totals: 13-172
Who: Braden River at St. Petersburg Gibbs
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: St. Petersburg