It started with a dazzling, shifty run from a sophomore running back showing he can hang in a heavyweight varsity football game.
A key first down pass a few plays later had Palmetto High nearing the red zone and a potential go-ahead scoring drive.
But the capping play didn’t result in a touchdown.
Rather, the play was a game-changing fumble that stunted the Tigers’ (1-1) early fourth-quarter possession.
The series was indicative of how sloppy things were for Palmetto in an 11-10 loss at Sarasota Riverview on Thursday.
“When you turn the ball over and have 200 yards in penalties, you aren’t going to beat a Pop Warner team,” Palmetto head coach Dave Marino said.
The Tigers fell behind 2-0 after a snap went over punter Freddy Manriquez’s head and through the back of the end zone late in the first quarter.
Manriquez, though, gave Palmetto a 3-2 lead after a 40-yard field goal, and the Tigers added to that with Anthony Marino’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Trey Goodman on a slant route with 23.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
That first half saw both offenses stymied by physical defenses.
The Tigers tallied 124 total yards in the first half, while the Rams (2-1) produced just 57.
Riverview, however, opened the second half with an eight-play scoring drive capped with Arthur Brantley’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Zy Grable.
A failed two-point conversion meant Palmetto held a 10-8 lead.
A short field goal on their next possession to complete an 11-play drive that wrapped up early in the fourth quarter produced the final margin.
“Being able to move the ball on offense, I think, in the second half really helped,” Riverview head coach Josh Smithers said. “It kind of gave our defense a little rest.”
Palmetto fumbled twice in the loss, with the second one being the dagger that crushed a potential game-winning score deep in Riverview territory following the Rams’ go-ahead field goal.
Palmetto sophomore Eddravian Butler was dynamite for the Tigers, especially on that key drive.
He took the first play and covered 33 yards on the ground to set up a first-and-10 on Riverview’s 35.
LaJohntay Wester completed a 10-yard pass to Goodman for a first down just a few plays later to inch the Tigers toward the red zone. But Wester was stripped of the ball on a 12-yard rumble up the middle, and Riverview halted any momentum change with a fumble recovery.
Palmetto’s defense held firm later in the quarter, and the offense had one final chance to produce a game-winning drive.
The Tigers did grab two first downs on their two-minute drill of a final drive.
But two incomplete passes preceded a Jason Spicer Jr. 7-yard reception to set up a fourth-and-3 from Riverview’s 48 with the clock ticking under a minute to play.
A wayward pass went incomplete, and the Rams took two kneel downs to seal the slugfest victory.
The teams combined for a tremendous number of penalties, including multiple personal foul penalties, and Riverview had one player ejected.