The hour-long bus ride to Palatka had no ill affects on the Ponte Vedra Sharks Friday evening as Coach Matt Toblin’s football team took control of the game early then cruised to a 28-10 win.
Ponte Vedra recovered a first quarter Panther fumble and converted the turnover into a touchdown six plays later. Three Nick Tronti passes to Harry Jorgenson, JD Pirris and Hal Swan pass gave Ponte Vedra possession at the host’s 6-yard line. Swan’s 3-yard plunge put the Sharks up 7-0.
Strong defensive play by Noah Solaun and a holding penalty led to a Palatka punt but the Sharks turned the ball over right away when the Panthers intercepted Tronti’s long pass intended for Quint Boyd.
Ponte Vedra got a break when a holding penalty against the Panthers negated a 50-yard touchdown run. Palatka was forced to punt again and the Sharks engineered a 98-yard, eleven play touchdown drive to double their lead 14-0. Key plays included a third down pass to Marshall Few and runs of 26, 20 and 24 yards by Swan. Tronti earned the touchdown with his 11-yard keeper.
The Sharks got the ball right back when Alexs Djukic fell on a Panther fumble at the Palatka forty. Six plays later FB Colin York opened a hole for Tronti who bulled over for a 21-0 Ponte Vedra advantage. The hosts had to settle for a 33-yard field goal after driving inside the Shark red zone with 23 seconds left in the half.
Ponte Vedra’s surprise on-sides kickoff to start the second half set up their final score of the game. It came on a nine-play drive capped by Tronti’s pass to Boyd in the end zone.
Palatka finally found the end zone with a third quarter flea flicker that caught the Shark secondary by surprise—a play that was good for 80 yards.
Tronti finished with 15 completions in 20 attempts good for 189 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Swan gained 87 yards on 19 carries and caught four passes for 69 yards. Marshall Few picked up 36 yards on three catches. Defensively Solaun lead all tacklers with nine and recovered a Panther fumble.