Sharks’ playoff hopes end in Tallahassee

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The postseason ended abruptly for the Ponte Vedra Sharks following a 28-18 loss to the Godby Cougars in Tallahassee last Friday evening. The Sharks were stymied by a pair of very costly interceptions — one on the very first play of the second half.

The Sharks dodged a bullet on the Cougars’ opening drive of the game when Zach Summers recovered a Godby fumble on the Ponte Vedra 5-yard line. Prior to the fumble, the Cougars had a first-and-goal on the Shark 1-yard line.

Following the recovery, the teams traded punts with neither team having an advantage. The first quarter ended with the score tied 0-0, and with Godby on the Sharks’ 37-yard line. Two plays later though, the Cougars celebrated the game’s first touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Jarrett Stepp’s 40-yard return on the ensuing kickoff was nullified by a holding penalty, and the Sharks were forced to punt four plays later. Stout defense by the Sharks and a near interception by Stepp kept the Cougars in check as the battle of the punters continued.

With possession of the ball on their own 25-yard line, a Jack Murrah pass was tipped and wound up in the hands of the Cougar defender who returned it to the Shark 2-yard line. One play later, the hosts bumped their lead to 14-0.

The Sharks’ offense continued to struggle, and Riley Robbins was called upon to punt for the fourth time in four possessions. Godby then suffered its second turnover when Duncan Van Kouteren intercepted a third-and-3 pass attempt. 

Ponte Vedra came away with good field position after Murrah connected with Rafe Stenwall on a 13-yard screen pass. It appeared to be a Sharks first down at the Godby 45-yard line. However, the ball was marked short of a first down by less than a yard. The Sharks went for it on fourth-and-short, and Zack King appeared to have picked up the first down on the dive play. The officials saw it differently, again marking the ball short of a first down. As a result, Godby took over on downs.

The half ended with the Cougars on top 14-0, but with Ponte Vedra set to receive the second half kickoff and the game within reach. Their first play of that possession —another interception on another tipped ball — proved devastating for the Sharks. The pick-six was returned 40 yards, ultimately putting Godby up 21-0.

Ponte Vedra managed to move the ball on its next possession with key catches by Stenwall (27 yards) and Kyle Barker (10 yards). But the Sharks could get no closer than the Godby 6-yard line and settled for Robins’ 24-yard field goal.

Although Ponte Vedra would force another Cougar punt, the Shark offense wasn’t able to capitalize. The teams headed into the fourth quarter with Ponte Vedra on the short end of the 21-3 score and Godby inside the PV red zone.

The Cougars would move from the Shark 23-yard line to a touchdown in four plays and with nine minutes left in the game led 28-3. 

When Robbins had to punt yet again, Ponte Vedra’s chances looked bleak. But the Shark defense still had some life left. Tommy Zitiello hit the Cougar punt returner, separating him from the football, and Wes Davis recovered for Ponte Vedra.

Freshman quarterback Jacobi Myers came on for the Sharks and ignited the dormant offense. Myers first hit Kit Connelly for 11 yards, then found Stenwall for 8 and finally connected with Stepp for an 11-yard touchdown. Godby still led 28-10.

An onside kick following the touchdown surprised no one, but still the Sharks pulled it off. Mathews Webster recovered for Ponte Vedra, and Myers was back on the field with five minutes left and the Sharks looking to pull of a remarkable comeback.

 Myers and Stepp did their best not to disappoint. The two combined for a 60-yard pass-and-catch touchdown. After Stepp caught the two-point conversion, the Sharks trailed 28-18.

But another onside kickoff wasn’t successful, and Godby managed to hold on for the win.

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