ST. PETERSBURG -- In a game delayed 37 minutes by inclement weather, both the Palmetto Tigers and host St. Petersburg Lakewood Spartans appeared to leave the offenses high and dry in the first half Friday in a non-district football game.
The Spartans went on to win 20-13 in a game where all substantial offense, and every point, came in the second half.
With a kickoff in a monsoon-like downpour at 8:07 p.m., both offenses were cold for the first half. Fewer than 100 yards of offense were earned combined, even though the rain and lightning threats ended about halfway through the first quarter.
The best chance for either team came in the second quarter. Lakewood marched down the field from its 40-yard line with less than 7 minutes left. However, with
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about 3 minutes left and on Palmetto's 3-yard line, Spartans quarterback Ryan Davis fumbled the snap and lost possession, letting the points slip through his fingers.
Despite the two turnovers in the first half by Lakewood, the Tigers were unable to capitalize, getting their first first down of the game with 2:02 left in the half.
The bright spot for the Tigers in the first half, punter Evan Kitchell, put the ball in favorable positions, with four punts in the first half for 140 yards, and the defense limited the returns to single digits each time.
Even the four penalties Lakewood received in the first half were fruitless for the Tigers, showcasing the point that the defense of both teams were on point.
However, a completely different game began after halftime, as both teams look suddenly refreshed and ready to play. Lakewood struck first with a long drive up the field, capped off by a 13-yard run into the end zone by Romello Presely six minutes into the half.
This would be followed by Palmetto receiver Brian Waiters' 18-yard touchdown run on the next possession, but with the extra point attempt failed, the score was 7-6 Lakewood.
That deficit would come into play later in the game, but on the next Palmetto possession, running back Joshua Hicks made what could arguably be considered the play of the game, as he broke down the sideline for an 87-yard rushing touchdown, putting the Tigers ahead for the first time in the game.
This would be the last time Palmetto held the lead.
In the fourth quarter, after being replaced by senior Jocqui Ellison for more than a quarter, Davis came back to life, connecting to Ellison for an 8-yard strike, putting Lakewood ahead for good. Palmetto had a chance when WR Dearius Washington made a 41-yard reception for another six points, but it was called back by a 12-player penalty.
Small penalties and seemingly minor mistakes were what ended up being Palmetto's undoing. When Palmetto had their last possession with about a minute left, a pass by quarterback Jack Allison was intercepted by safety Broujoun Bonner finished the Tigers.
Palmetto looks for its first win of the season when its take on Countryside High School on Thursday in Clearwater.