PALMETTO -- After Azavion Smith's right knee injury was diagnosed and Palmetto learned it would be missing its leading receiver for at least three weeks, Dave Marino pulled Brandon Luckett aside.
Luckett is the starting wide receiver opposite Smith and the Division I hopeful seemed poised for a breakout senior year. Still, until the fourth week of the season Luckett hadn't caught more than three passes in a game.
The Tigers needed more for its offense to keep humming.
"We talked to him. We said, 'Hey, we're going to lean on you a little bit more,'" Marino said. "He knew it and everyone knew it. That's what seniors do and that's what big-time players do."
Never miss a local story.
The first 24 minutes of PHS' first full game without Smith were an offensive debacle. Bayshore limited the Tigers to 96 yards and 3.3 yards per play in the first half Friday's 35-0 win over Bayshore. Palmetto just a 7-0 lead over the winless Bruins heading into halftime.
Midway through the third quarter Luckett doubled the lead with an 8-yard touchdown catch. Eleven minutes later, he completed PHS' blowout win with his second touchdown of the game from Jack Allison at Harllee Stadium in Palmetto.
"It's unfortunate Azavion's hurt," Luckett said. "Once he comes back we're just going to be even more dangerous."
Luckett finished with seven catches and 97 yards -- both season bests. Allison, a Miami commit, completed 14-of-24 passes for 153 yards and the two touchdowns to Luckett. In the second half, the quarterback went 7-for-9 with 88 yards. The Tigers (4-1) simply had more depth and talent than BHS (0-4) and eventually they overwhelmed Bayshore.
"Palmetto's a good team," said Bruins head coach Elijah Freeman, who was PHS' defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator before taking the BHS job in 2013. "There was no way we were going to keep them in check for a full game. We didn't expect to. Our guys are very excited and they played very hard."
For 24 minutes, Bayshore stunned Palmetto. Tiger running back Octavious James, who ran for 150 yards a week earlier, managed only 31 yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble in the red zone. Bruin tailback A'Shawn Angel outperformed him with 70 yards on 15 touches.
PHS got the ball to begin the second half and embarked on a pivotal drive. James took three positive carries for a first down. Allison connected for three completions for a pair of firsts to get Palmetto into BHS territory.
James took a handoff toward the left sideline and turned upfield for a 20-yard gain. The Tigers entered the red zone with a chance to double the lead. After a pair of James runs, Luckett ran a post route on third down. Allison fired a laser to the back of the end zone to give the wide receiver his first touchdown of the season and cap a 5:58 drive.
"I think we're starting to click" said Luckett, who now has 174 yards the past two weeks.
The bulk of his yardage in a Week 4 win against Sarasota came on a 47-yard strike from Allison just before the end of the first half. Smith was already out of the game by then and Allison had to test double coverage to get the ball to his best healthy receiver.
Luckett was dropped on the goal line and James ran in for a touchdown on the next play.
"That's when it all started," Luckett said.
His first touchdown Friday sent the entire PHS offense rolling in the right direction. Palmetto's next drive lasted only two plays when Smith broke off a 37-yard run and followed it with a 7-yard plunge into the end zone. Smith finished with a season-high 161 yards on 24 carries.
On their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Tigers stretched their lead to 28-0 on a touchdown run by Isyah Funk before Luckett added his second touchdown on the PHS starters' final of the game. Bayshore didn't manage a single first down.
"They came out with a lot of fight and fire," Marino said. "Football's a game of will just as much as it is skill, and they played with a lot of heart and will and fight. And we matched it and did a good job in the second half."