Sharks prove to be ‘worst enemy’ in loss to Seminoles

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The Ponte Vedra Sharks football team fought until the end but lost a close game for the second straight week following a 24-13 defeat at home against Florida State University High School Sept. 2.

It was the home opener for the Sharks, who had a mixture of big plays and mistakes in all three phases of the game, which is something head coach Steve Price hopes to clean up during their bye week next week.

“I just think we’ve been our own worst enemy when it comes to offense, defense and special teams,” Price said. “We’ll do two things good and then one thing bad, and that’s where we’ve got to get better in the next two weeks until we play again.”

Special teams had a rough night for the Sharks, which included giving up long kickoff returns, a missed extra point and a fumble on a punt return that the Seminoles were able to scoop and score to go up 17-0 after one quarter of play.

“You can’t really say it’s this group or that group, because it’s really all of us that have to become more consistent in what we do,” Price said. “I believe we will, because the effort was great again tonight and the kids just busted their tails.”

However, the Sharks bounced back and established some offensive rhythm and Ben Burk threw a deep ball that connected with Wyatt Rogers streaking down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown pass to get the Sharks on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter.

As a result, the Sharks only trailed by 10 points, 17-7 and felt pretty good about where they were heading into halftime.

The Sharks’ offense got the ball first to open the second half, a penalty on the kickoff pushed them back to the inside their own 5-yard line.

“We thought we had them at halftime,” Price said. “It was really unfortunate to come out and get backed up the way we did to start that first series, because if we could get something going there, it’s totally different.”

One of the bright spots for the Sharks was the play of the defense, but especially up front, where the combination of Layne Swafford, Spencer Pearson, Nick Grieco and Mack Gray were created havoc all night long.

Swafford had a couple of sacks and hurried the quarterback on several other occasions, including one that led to an interception late in the contest, while Pearson also had a sack and batted down a pass attempt.

What made the performances even more impressive is that it came against an FSU High offensive line that had plenty of size the Sharks went up against.

“Our whole d-line stepped up bigtime tonight, and we’ve just got to keep doing our job, and the rest will fall into place,” Pearson said.

According to Pearson, the defensive front has really come along, and the relationships are strong with it being such a veteran group.

Swafford helps make up the veteran unit, as a fellow senior, and the Marshall commit feels that the Sharks’ defensive line has the chance to only get more special as the season moves along.

“I feel like it takes a special person to play up front on defense, and we’ve got a bunch of those guys,” Swafford said.

Despite the loss, the home crowd was rocking throughout the game and the defense gave them plenty of moments to cheer and keep up the intensity.

“Always happy to see the student section come out to the games, because win or lose they are there to support us,” Pearson said. “I love playing well for them.”

The Seminoles increased their lead to 24-7 early in the fourth quarter, but the Sharks quickly marched down the field, led by Burk who made a couple of nice first down throws, including one to Cole Madson that put them inside the opponent’s 10-yard-line.

Just one play later, Burk punctuated the drive with a 6-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper up the middle with 6:23 to play. It proved to be the last score for either team in the game.

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