Bradenton Christian eschewed the underdog role — for the first two minutes, anyway — in Thursday night’s rescheduled game due to the threat of Hurricane Irma to Florida. The host Panthers took a 6-0 lead on their second possession, but it was all downhill from there in a 46-6 loss to unbeaten Zephyrhills Christian.
The Warriors, who made it to the second round of the playoffs last season before losing to Independent state champion Saint Stephen’s, reeled off 46 straight points and forced four turnovers in the decisive victory over the Panthers, who dropped to 0-2.
“You definitely lived up to your nickname,” first-year Bradenton Christian coach Dan Fort told the opposing coaches and players after a postgame prayer at midfield. “You were Warriors tonight.”
Panthers two-way lineman Diamonte Isom, sidelined with an injury in the fourth quarter, had a slightly different take on the opposing team.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “They’re aggressive, they play hard, but I don’t think they’re 46 points good.”
Bradenton Christian had its best defensive stand early in the game, stopping Zephyrhills Christian two yards short of a first down on a fourth-and-8 play. The Panthers needed eight plays on a scoring drive highlighted by quarterback Zach Seagreaves’ 14-yard pass to Bathie Thiam near the right corner of the end zone.
Thiam, who came close to stretching and putting the ball over the right pylon on that reception, then scored on that 30-yard drive by plunging into the end zone from 1 yard out.
Zephyrhills Christian got touchdown runs of 63 and 5 yards from Calvin Samuel and Javion Hanner, respectively, to take a 14-6 halftime lead. Then things got worse with the Warriors scoring 20 points in the third on Hanner’s 60-yard touchdown run, a 57-yard scoring run by Samuel and a 35-yard scoring pass from Jacoby Braxton to Kavbion Marbra, who set up the latter scoring drive with his second interception of Seagreaves.
Seagreaves, who also was picked off by Javan Smith, completed 8 of 20 passes for 75 yards. That included Thiam’s five receptions for 55 yards.
“I was surprised, because we kind of came into the game uninspired and it showed with all the mistakes,” Fort said. “They wore us down and we didn’t get to finish the way we need to.”