Sharks maul Yulee 51-19 in 5A playoff win


Friday night’s District 5A football playoff matchup between the Yulee Hornets and the Ponte Vedra Sharks at the Shark Tank featured the area’s top running back against the area’s top quarterback.

What was expected to be a closely contested affair turned out to be a rout of the first magnitude. The Sharks, behind quarterback Nick Tronti, running back Hal Swan and receivers JD Pirris and Marshall Few, proved without a doubt that Ponte Vedra’s multi-faceted attack was vastly superior to Yulee’s powerful but one-dimensional offense featuring Jamari Peacock. The Sharks were never threatened as they rolled to an easy 51-19 victory.

Ponte Vedra took the opening kickoff and four plays later held a 7-0 lead. The drive featured a 13-yard run by Swan, a 22-yard reception by Pirris, a 9-yard Swan run and a 25-yard screen pass from Tronti to Swan for the touchdown.

Before Peacock had a chance to touch the football, the Sharks Cole McCormick stepped in front of an errant Yulee pass to put the ball back in Tronti’s hands on the Hornets’ 15-yard line. On third down, Tronti connected with Swan for an 11-yard score. The game was less than three minutes old and Ponte Vedra had a 14-0 advantage.

On their next possession, the visitors shunned the pass and handed the football to Peacock twice, only to have the Shark defense hold the area’s top running back to a net zero yards. Yulee was forced to punt and Ponte Vedra wasted no time putting up another score – this a 10-yard dive by Zach Walton.

Trailing 21-0, Yulee took advantage of three offsides infractions and a pass interference penalty to get on the board. Peacock gained 28 yards on eight carries in the drive.

The Sharks controlled the ball for nearly five minutes before settling for a 30-yard Chris Howard field goal and a 24-7 advantage. Ponte Vedra got the ball right back on the next play from scrimmage when a Yulee pitchout was fumbled and Jacob Reeves recovered. Swan found a big hole in the left side and scampered for a 12-yard touchdown. The Sharks led 31-7 with more than seven minutes left in the second quarter.

Yulee’s vaunted ground game (read Peacock) finally showed up when their powerful running back broke several tackles en route to a 68-yard touchdown jaunt. A botched snap foiled the point-after, leaving Yulee on the short end of the 31-13 score.

Tronti, answering Peacock’s long run, then engineered another 80-yard scoring drive; the big plays included a 23-yard strike to Jarrett Stepp and a 15-yard pass to Few. Tronti finished the drive calling his own number for the 4-yard TD. Sharks 38-13.

The Shark defense came up big once again forcing a Yulee punt with the Hornets inside their own 20. Duncan Van Kueteren blocked the kick and Jake Maguire scooped it up for the score. Sharks 45-13. Yulee tried to get back in the game through the air, but JB Shepherd’s interception for the Sharks killed that threat as the first half ended.

Yulee took the second half kickoff, but even Peacock could not help as the Shark defense swarmed to force another punt. Tronti and Few combined for a 44-yard pass and run play that put PV up 51-13. The PAT was blocked – the only downside of the night for the Sharks.

By this time Coach Toblin called on his backups. The Hornets would add another Peacock touchdown but it was far too little and far too late.

Ponte Vedra will host Ribault on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the district 5A regional semi-finals. Last Friday, the Trojans beat Bishop Kenny 14-13 in the other district 5A playoff game. Ribault’s season record is seven wins and three losses, including a 14-7 win over Yulee. They have scored 192 points and allowed 117. Expect Tronti to be highly motivated against the Trojans. Ponte Vedra lost in first game of last season’s playoffs, when the Trojans knocked the Shark quarterback out of the game with a broken collarbone.