CLEARWATER -- After spending the last two weeks paying for its mistakes, Palmetto decided to capitalize on some of its opponents' miscues Thursday night.
Consequently, the Tigers came back over the Sunshine Skyway with their first win of the season.
Free of the turnovers that dogged them during their first two games, the Tigers took advantage of three Clearwater Countryside giveaways and rolled past the Cougars 27-0.
"That's what we're capable of," said coach Dave Marino, whose teamed turned the ball over eight times during losses to Venice and St. Petersburg Lakewood but didn't do it once Thursday. "And if we continue to play like that, we're going to win a lot of games."
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Edizon German recovered the game's first fumble early in the first quarter when the Cougars had the ball inside Palmetto's
30. Less than four minutes later, Josh Hicks punched the ball in from the 3-yard line to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Countryside (2-1) was driving again midway through the second quarter before losing the ball on Palmetto's 1. Troy Thompskin recovered, and Hicks, who finished with 103 yards on 17 carries, capped a 99-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown run 85 seconds before half.
"When you got No. 9 on your team," Marino said of Hicks, who also split time at safety, "you've got a chance every week."
The Tigers wasted little time padding the lead in the third quarter when Jack Allison (9-for-12 for 160 yards) and Simon Williams connected for a 30-yard scoring strike. And after German picked off Cougars' quarterback Robby Hicks and made it to Countryside's 10, Hicks sprinted in for his third score of the night.
"We protected the football, we took pressure off Jack and didn't ask him to make so many tough throws," Marino said. "We enabled him to have some easy throws and the game started to come to him."
The Tigers' defense took care of the rest, totaling five sacks (three from junior defensive lineman Devan Barnes) and limiting the Cougars to four rushing yards.
"It's all about momentum," Barnes said. "The offense, they stepped up (Thursday) -- especially the O-line. ... They did really good, and I think that's what kept us going. Momentum, that's all it was."
Williams had four catches for 79 yards for the Tigers, who couldn't have snapped their early skid at a better time. They open their Class 7A-District 10 schedule next week at North Port.
"You don't want to go in doubting yourself," Marino said. "As much as you show them and you study the film, you still got to go out and do it. It doesn't matter that you could've done this and should've done that; you've got to go out and actually do it. And the kids did that, so we're proud of the way the kids hung in there, stayed together and now we've got it back on the right track."