The Palmetto High football team walked onto the home field of undefeated Pinellas Park on Friday night and didn’t flinch.
The seventh-seeded Tigers jumped to a big early lead and kept their foot on the gas, cruising to a 38-21 win over the No. 2 Patriots in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
It’s the second consecutive season Palmetto traveled to Pinellas County and beat the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs.
Palmetto (8-3) will continue its playoff run next week with a trip to sixth-seeded Valrico Bloomingdale, a 45-8 winner over Fort Myers Riverdale.
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Corrian Brown’s 9-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter made the score 38-7 against a Pinellas Park team that averaged 47 points a game during the regular season.
The Patriots picked up two touchdowns in the final 2:09 with the help of a 63-yard kickoff return and a Palmetto fumble.
”It was all about the defense,” Palmetto head coach Dave Marino said. “Hats off the them. That’s a hell of an offense we faced tonight. We missed a couple of offensive opportunities but we got it done.”
Johnny Jones scored the first touchdown on a short run, and quarterback Anthony Marino threw a pair of scoring passes, an 85-yard bomb to LaJohntay Wester and a 22-yard strike to Eddrayian Butler.
Marino also scored on a quarterback sneak, and Rafael Gonzalez added a 21-yard field goal.
”We’re peaking at the right time and we’re battle-tested,” Dave Marino said. “We aren’t undefeated but those losses were close games and we learned from them and got better.
“Our kids have a lot of confidence and they’re working hard every day to get better. We’re still a work in progress. I’m excited to see how we continue to progress over these next few weeks.”