The Ponte Vedra Sharks found themselves completely out of their league last Friday night at home, losing 35-7 to the Conquerors of Trinity Christian (TC). If not for three turnovers and a few major penalties by the visitors, the final score might have been far worse.
Ponte Vedra started well when Caden Fordham fielded the opening kickoff for the Sharks and returned it 60 yards to the Trinity 30-yard line. But facing a fourth down at the TC 23-yard line, a fumbled snap ruined Ponte Vedra’s field goal attempt.
Trinity then scored back-to-back touchdowns. The first took just three plays and covered 63 yards; the second covered 64 yards in six plays.
Ponte Vedra’s best chance for a first-half touchdown came when Cobi Myers connected with Nick Pirris for 12 yards and Kyle Barker for 10 more and a first down at the TC 9-yard line. An interception on the next play spoiled what might have been the Sharks’ best drive of the evening.
The Conquerors appeared to be heading for a third consecutive score when Fordham stepped in front of an errant pass. The Sharks couldn’t take advantage of the big pick, however, and punted the ball away three plays later. Fordham was a bright spot for Ponte Vedra all night and not just on defense. He gained 108 yards gained on a pair of kickoffs.
Tommy Zitiello matched Fordham’s interception with one of his own to give Ponte Vedra a first down inside the TC red zone. The Sharks settled for a field goal attempt only to see it blocked. Aiden Dunnigan recovered a Trinity fumble on the next series but again Ponte Vedra turned the ball over on downs.
The first half ended with Ponte Vedra down just 14-0 and hoping to get back in the game. After the Sharks kicked off to start the second half and forced Trinity into a three-and-out, feelings on the Ponte Vedra sidelines were high. Bad news came when the Sharks were forced to punt after three plays of their own. Ponte Vedra’s punt was blocked and TC converted the turnover into a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
The Sharks were plagued by yet another turnover, this on another interception. But the visitors weren’t able to capitalize.
The third quarter ended with TC up 21-0. That didn’t last long. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Conquerors scored again, capping a 10-play drive for a 28-0 advantage.
The Sharks then kept control of the football for 13 plays, moving from their own 25-yard line to the TC 25-yard line but failed to convert a critical fourth down. TC used its next possession effectively and efficiently. A quick first down out to the left sideline wasn’t covered by the Sharks and the result was a 74-yard Trinity touchdown.
With a running clock in force, Ponte Vedra had just enough time to avoid the shutout. Logan Conway’s 13-yard touchdown catch came on the game’s final play.
Ponte Vedra next hosts the Bolles School in a conference game on Friday at 7 p.m.