ST. PETERSBURG — The neighborhood and district rivalry between Northeast and St. Petersburg came down to four plays and 18 seconds. After driving 89 yards in the last few minutes, St. Petersburg had the ball first and goal from the 10 and trailing by five points.
Quarterback Corey D’Angelo’s first pass fell incomplete. So did the second and the third. With six seconds left and one last chance, D’Angelo scrambled left, set his feet and fired into the corner of the end zone. Northeast defensive back Jalin Hubbard lunged, tipped the ball away and saved the Vikings’ perfect season.
Northeast 22, St. Petersburg 17.
“Longest 18 seconds I can ever remember,” Northeast coach Mike Jalazo said.
Northeast (4-0) won its first Class 7A-9 district game; St. Petersburg fell to 1-3.
St. Petersburg looked to grind away with its running game to stay ahead of the Vikings. The Green Devils started with an impressive 11-play drive (all runs) that ended with a 3-yard plunge by Maurice Hemingway.
Northeast answered with a 72-yard, 12-play drive capped by a 2-yard sneak by Ryan Davis. St. Petersburg continued to run successfully, and when Sean Covington nailed a 28-yard field goal with 30 seconds left, the Green Devils took a 17-14 lead into the locker room.
Aside from the final drive, the second half basically hinged on two plays. The first came on St. Petersburg’s opening drive. On third and 6 from their 44-yard line, St. Petersburg muffed a handoff and lost the fumble.
Three plays later, Davis hit Hubbard for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Northeast its first lead, and the Vikings tacked on a 2-point conversion pass from Keith Harrington to Richard Lacagnina.
“The coaches told me to spread out wide and use my speed,” Hubbard said. “They thought it might be a mismatch if Ryan could get me the ball. Once I caught it I knew I could get to the end zone.”
St. Petersburg had little success moving the ball until the final drive. It started on the Green Devils 2 and included some key passes by D’Angelo to Anthony Foster and Casey Tellis that took the ball to the Northeast 10.
But the Green Devils had 15 penalties for 126 yards including five personal fouls.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Green Devils coach Joe Fabrizio said. “You’re not going to win football games if you can’t do the right things.”
Davis, normally a pass-first quarterback, threw only 14 times because of rain that started in the second quarter. He rushed 24 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
St. Petersburg was led by Deangelo Reeves, who had 129 yards on 14 carries.