Palmetto High School’s success all season has depended on outscoring anyone and everyone.
In the second round of the Class 7A-Region 3 playoffs on Friday night, the Tigers ran into a team that everyone has had trouble scoring against.
Palmetto proved no exception.
The result was a 21-14 loss to Valrico Bloomingdale, ending the Tigers’ bid to reach their first regional final since 2011.
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“We just couldn’t get it going offensively; we couldn’t get in a rhythm,” Palmetto coach Dave Marino said. “Across the board we all made mistakes.”
Bloomingdale (11-1), which won its first playoff game in program history a week ago, extended its most successful season and will face defending state champion Venice in the region final.
Charles Montgomery, filling in at quarterback for injured junior Lance Alderson for the second week in a row, endured a schizophrenic night — rushing for 110 first-half yards (165 overall before leaving with injury) but throwing two first-half interceptions.
The picks were part of a three turnover half by the Bulls, who entered with a plus-5 turnover ratio and had committed only 11 turnovers all season.
Despite being given possession at their 42, 38 and 45 thanks to the turnovers, Palmetto struggled to build drives. The offense was out of sync the entire half.
The Tigers were called for seven penalties, including four illegal procedure calls, and quarterback Anthony Marino did not complete a pass until early in the second quarter (0 for his first 7) and completed went 2 of 11 in the half.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Marino said. “For a team that was going to lean on its offense and allow its defense to progress we knew they were were a work in prgress. But the way (the defense) progressed all year, showing the performance last week holding a very powerful Pinellas Park team to 7 points.
“And then to hold this team to 7 at half and 14, really for most of the game. They have a lot of weapons over there, so defensively, we really progressed.”
Much of the credit for those numbers belonged to the Bloomingdale defense, which often played without a safety and consistently pressured Marino from up the middle.
It was a recipe that had served the Bulls well: They entered the game having allowed 76 points through 11 weeks, including six shutouts.
Palmetto became only the third Bloomingdale opponent this season to score more than 10 points, but it was not enough.
Bloomingdale took the lead midway through the first quarter when an intentional grounding call against Palmetto had the Tigers punting off the back line of the end zone.
The rushed, shanked punt gave Bloomingdale the ball at the 17, and Montgomery found receiver Terrel Ferrell at the back of the end zone for the 13-yard touchdown.
The Bulls doubled the lead on another short field in the third quarter. They needed four plays to go 15 yards, capped by a 5-yard run by Montgomery.
Palmetto made a late push, going 96 yards in five plays — highlighted by a 92-yard run by Josh Siplin, setting up a 4-yard scoring run by Johnny Jones that made the score 14-7 with about 5 minutes to play.
However, Bloomingdale closed the door with a 5-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by backup quarterback Jon Catala’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Skinner with 2:08 to play.
Palmetto drove down the field, with Bloomingdale playing a prevent defense, and scored with 1:11 left to make it a one-score game. Marino hit Siplin for a 17-yard scoring pass, setting up an onside kick.
When Bloomingdale recovered, the Bulls ran out the clock.
Marino passed for 75 yards and one touchdowns on 10 of 27 passing With the victory,
For Palmetto, the loss marks the second consecutive season the Tigers’ season ended in a second-round loss to a Hillsborough County team. A year ago, Palmetto lost 42-26 to Tampa Bay Tech.
The Tigers, who were making their sixth playoff appearance in the nine seasons of coach Dave Marino’s tenure, were trying to return to their first region final since 2011.