PALMETTO -- "Boring" is an adjective that cannot be applied to Palmetto's football team.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, a large dose of early-season excitement has yet to lead to a win after the Tigers fell 34-31 to St. Petersburg Lakewood on Friday.
This came a week after Palmetto (0-2) lost by two points in Venice, and similar to that game, in which the two teams combined for 90 points, Friday's contest featured a bevy of fireworks.
But it also included a flurry of penalty flags chucked at Palmetto, including a pair of fourth-quarter personal-foul penalties that destroyed an offensive drive and fueled a Lakewood one that resulted in the game's deciding touchdown.
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"They're just drive killers. You can't do that against a state-ranked football team," said Matt Braselton, Palmetto's acting head coach Friday while Dave Marino recovered from what the team called a "short-term medical issue."
"We don't practice that way; that's not taught. And we've got some young guys, but that's no excuse -- they've got to grow up."
One flag brought the ball from the Spartans' 31 to its
46. And three plays later, hotly-recruited quarterback Ryan Davis hit Joshua Page for a 24-yard touchdown to give Lakewood a 32-31 lead with 6:27 to go. Davis and Page hooked up again on the ensuing two-point conversion.
Davis, who has nearly 30 Division I offers, rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown and threw for three more, though his one interception was returned 75 yards by Thaddeus Johnson. The Spartans, who reached the Class 5A final four last year and are ranked 10th in their classification this season, totaled 441 yards of offense. "We've got to tackle better," Braselton said.
The Tigers did their share of scoring, too, thanks in part to Quincy Washington, who rushed for 130 yards and gave Palmetto a 31-26 lead when he returned a kickoff return 83 yards for a touchdown with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
And quarterback Jack Allison threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns and didn't turn the ball over after being intercepted four times last week.
"I wouldn't say I'm pleased with my effort. I made a couple of mental mistakes I shouldn't have made and threw a couple of balls that I shouldn't have thrown," Allison said. "But we'll get better."
The Tigers got the ball to Lakewood's 7 on their final drive before the Spartans stuffed Washington for a 3-yard loss and sacked Allison to move the ball to the 15. Kevin Vasquez, who converted all four point-after attempts and hit a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter, missed a 32-yard field goal attempt with 2:44 remaining.
Palmetto hosts Clearwater Countryside next week and hopes for a repeat of last season, when they turned an 0-2 start into a playoff berth.
"Without a couple mental errors, we would have won the game," Allison said. "We've just got to stay positive."