Sharks drop district opener on last-second field goal

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The monumental district football matchup between Ponte Vedra and Flagler Palm Coast lived up to all the hype as the Sharks showcased their resilience and a lot of heart but came up just short of victory after Flagler Palm Coast kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to win 20-17 Oct. 3.

“The kids played hard, and we did our best, but just came up a little short,” Ponte Vedra head coach Steve Price said.

It was a roller coaster of a game with both teams putting together clutch drives at key points throughout the night.

Overtime seemed a real possibility after the Sharks (2-3, 0-1) drove down the field for a 75-yard scoring drive that was fueled by a couple of fourth down conversions on the ground by quarterback Ben Burk, the second of which he went around the left end and dove for the pie line for an 11-yard touchdown run.

Mark Romano’s extra point one play later tied the game at 17-all with 1:32 left in regulation.

However, the Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0) answered the impressive drive by the Sharks with one of their own and although Sharks were able to keep them out of the end zone, they were able to kick the go-ahead field goal.

There was an anxiousness throughout the Shark Tank prior to the ball being snapped because not only was it a pressure-packed kick, but it had also been an adventurous night for kickers to that point.

The Sharks had blocked a field goal attempt on the Bulldogs’ previous drive, which gave the offense the ball with a chance to go down and tie it up and an extra point had also been missed earlier by the Bulldogs.

However, the final kick went through the uprights to the heartbreak of the Ponte Vedra players and faithful who wound up on the losing end of the hard-fought battle.

Burk scored both touchdowns for the Sharks in the game and did it with his legs on both occasions, with the first one coming from a quarterback keeper from two yards out early in the second quarter. He now has six rushing touchdowns on the season.

His first score capped a much-needed drive for the Sharks after they fell behind 12-0 in the first quarter.

“I’m still really excited and I feel good about our team,” Price said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t play well early.”

After the Bulldogs found success with their rushing attack on their first two offensive possessions, the Sharks were able to make in-game adjustments and began limiting the chunk plays on the ground, especially by opposing quarterback D.J. Murray, who proved to be elusive in the open field.

“Our defensive staff did a great job of making the adjustments,” Price said.

Despite the loss, the Sharks are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the three-team district 4-4S, as they will now need to finish ahead of Nease in the district standings at season’s end to clinch a spot.

Next up for the Sharks is a road game in Jacksonville on a short week against the Bishop Kenny Crusaders (6-0) Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

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