Pirates slay Sailors in battle of transfer QBs

Braden River won the battle of the transfer quarterbacks.

Pirates junior Bryan Gagg led his team to a 41-14 road win against Sarasota on Friday night. He played for the Sailors for two years before transferring in the offseason and showed the form Friday that helped him throw for around 2,500 yards over his two seasons with the Sailors.

“It was just another game,” Gagg said. “It was cool to come back and play on this field and come back to Sarasota, where I’m from and stuff. As far as the team I was playing, it was just normal.

“There’s a couple balls I should’ve completed, but overall I thought I played pretty well.”

Gagg outplayed Sailors quarterback Tommie Battie, who transferred from Braden River in the offseason. Battie, who split time with sophomore Vincent Parisi at quarterback, completed 4 of 11 passes for 27 yards and rushed 12 times for 52 yards against his former team.

Gagg, who returned from an injury suffered two weeks ago, completed 12 of 18 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns. His performance buoyed the Pirates (3-1, 2-1 in Class 7A-District 11), who struggled to establish a consistent rushing attack early in the game.

The Pirates started slowly against the Sailors (3-4, 1-2 in Class 7A-District 11) before scoring three times in slightly more than five minutes in the second quarter for a 20-0 lead going into halftime.

Gagg completed touchdown passes to Craivon Koonce (26 yards) and Knowledge McDaniel (31 yards), and defensive end Taylor Upshaw returned an interception for a score.

McDaniel added two more touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

“I think we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Gagg said. “We came out a little slow and later on in the game we started clicking and figuring out what we needed to do and started playing as a team more.”

Sailors running back Brian Battie recorded another excellent game, rushing 23 times for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He accounted for 64.5 percent of the Sailors’ 330 offensive yards.

Sailors coach Brian Ryals was ejected with 7:11 remaining in the game following a penalty against his team.

Braden River senior Deshaun Fenwick rushed 15 times for 82 yards, and McDaniel caught six passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 68 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s an absolute beast,” Gagg said. “Knowledge is someone you always want to get the ball into his hands and someone I can trust throwing the ball at any time in any situation in the game.”

Braden River starts a two-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. next Friday against Lakewood Ranch, a team the Pirates have beaten in three consecutive games by an average of 26.7 points. Sarasota plays at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Venice, which has beaten the Sailors nine consecutive times.