Regulation was just not enough when the Ponte Vedra Sharks and Nease Panthers met on the football field Oct. 28, as the Sharks wound up beating their rival 35-34 in overtime following a touchdown run from Brian Case and an extra point by Mark Romano.
“It had been 426 days (since last year’s loss to Nease),” Senior linebacker Trooper Price said. “I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the ability to play football. I’ll never take anything for granted.”
As soon as Romano’s kick sailed through the uprights, Ponte Vedra students stormed the field and shared in the celebration with players and coaches.
“Your emotions are just flying everywhere, especially in big rivalry games like this,” Romano said.
It is a game that those in the stadium either on the sidelines or in the stands will not soon forget.
As with most memorable games, it was a roller coaster of momentum swings throughout. Below is a look back at each of the swings that took place along the journey:
Momentum swing No. 1
As with many classic games, it went through its share of momentum swings, and it all started with the Sharks jumping out to a 14-0 lead thanks to a 40-yard touchdown from quarterback Ben Burk and Brian Case punching it in from a yard out.
Momentum swing No. 2
However, the Panthers were quick to punch back and put together two masterful scoring drives of their own that resulted in Marcus Stokes taking off for touchdowns of 7 and 25 yards respectively to cut the deficit to one, 14-13 after a missed extra point.
Momentum swing No. 3
The Sharks extended their lead to 21-13 heading into halftime as Burk conducted a late drive to end the half and capped it off with a perfectly placed ball to tight end Landon Okla, who got behind the defense on a wheel route.
“Everyone that played in the game last year told us about how much it hurt, and we knew we needed to do something to make up for that,” Ponte Vedra junior defensive back Joe Mahoney said.
Momentum swing No. 4
The Panthers offense tied the contest at 21-all heading into the fourth quarter as Stokes found a streaking Maddox Spencer down the middle of the field for a 28-yard scoring strike. He then connected with Gavin Gmeiner standing alone in the end zone for a successful two-point conversation to knot things up.
Momentum swing No. 5
Just when the Sharks needed an answer, Burk took to the air and hit Wyatt Rogers on a pair of deep balls, the second of which resulted in a touchdown to put the Sharks back up 28-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Momentum swing No. 6
Samuel Milton and the Panthers had a response of their own. The senior running back ran hard all game and broke free for some chunk plays during the drive, including capping it off with a touchdown to tie it at 28 with 5:13 to play.
Momentum swing No. 7
Mahoney flies in from the left side of the line and blocks a field goal attempt that could have given the Panthers the lead with 2:40 left.
“I told my coach to let me go and I could get there,” Mahoney said. “I knew I could get around the edge and he trusted in me, and I made a play.”
Momentum swing No. 8
The Sharks had a shot at their own field goal attempt to win the game, but it went wide left as time expired and the game went to overtime.
Momentum swing No. 9
Nease had possession first in the overtime period and Stokes punched it in from fourth and goal from a yard out. However, the Panthers misplay the extra point attempt and only lead by six points, 34-28.
Momentum swing No. 10
Case proved once again that he has a nose for the endzone with his second rushing touchdown on the night and Romano made up for missing the field goal at the end of regulation by burying the extra point and securing the monumental victory for the Sharks.
“I just had to bring my hopes back up, because I knew that my teammates were going to need me,” Romano said. “They believed in me, and walking out there, I knew I would get it.”
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