LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Ken Sommers issued the challenge to his players.
"Make it the best fourth quarter of your lives," the first-year Out-of-Door Academy football coach said.
Mission accomplished. And a little more.
The Thunder (2-4) rallied from a 19-0 deficit in the fourth quarter before tacking on the lone points of overtime to turn away St. Petersburg Catholic, 25-19, on Friday at Thunder Stadium.
"I'm proud of the win, but I'm proud that it was a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter," Sommers said.
To pull off the fourth quarter turnaround, ODA relied on backup quarterback Anthony Squitieri.
He connected on 13 of his final 18 passes, while tossing the game-winning 10-yard score to Kendall Johnson in overtime. Those heroics were set up by the Thunder defense, which held the Barons (1-5) out of the end zone on their offensive possession in the extra period.
"I can't even feel my legs," Squitieri said shortly after the game-winning pass.
The freshman was called into action for a second consecutive week, because starter Gus Mahler suffered a neck injury late in the first half after taking a shot to the head on a run up the middle.
Sommers said Mahler, who has dealt with concussions in the past, will be evaluated Monday.
By that point, the Barons built a 13-0 lead through Bailey Brooks' two touchdowns, the latter a sliding 16-yard touchdown reception where he kept one foot inbounds along the right sideline.
Nonetheless, Squitieri was thrust into the role and ODA rallied behind the 5-foot-6 signal-caller.
"He gets the ball out quickly, which helps our O-line," Sommers said. "And he throws it to spots the players are going to be, which is pretty precocious for a ninth grader. So it's fun to watch."
With ODA's defense stiffening -- the Thunder held St. Pete Catholic to 81 total yards of offense in the second half -- the momentum began to shift.
Then Trenton Radigan delivered the big offensive punch, when Squitieri underthrew him late in the third quarter.
The ball bounced off Lawrence Grimes' hands and into Radigan's possession. Three plays later, Dakota Dickerson punched in the first of two rushing touchdowns early in the fourth quarter.
"I think he recognized Trenton had one-on-one coverage and he believes in him making a play," Sommers said.
A second consecutive fourth quarter three-and-out from ODA's defense gave the Thunder the ball with 4 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
Squitieri connected with Owen Han (six catches, 87 yards) for 29 yards to begin a march into St. Pete Catholic territory.
Later, Squitieri used his quick read to find Johnson on a fourth-and-1, before a slant route to Radigan tied the game at 19-19 with 6.7 seconds remaining.
A blocked extra point meant overtime, and the Thunder's defense stymied the Barons' running game once more.
That left Squitieri to chuck the ball high into the night sky, before it fell into Johnson's arms and a raucous sideline celebration took hold.
"I just trusted my man I knew he was going to make a play," Squitieri said.