ST. PETERSBURG — Nobody had to point out the obvious in Palm Harbor University’s locker room at halftime of its game against St. Petersburg on Friday. If the Hurricanes didn’t get something going on offense, they were in danger of losing to a kicker.
St. Petersburg’s Sean Covington bombed a 57-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter, his second field goal of the half, and the Green Devils held a 6-0 lead. But on the fourth play of the third quarter, PHU quarterback Tyler Kaminski hit Dominic Bonelli for a 69-yard touchdown pass, and momentum quickly changed.
The Hurricanes scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to defeat St. Petersburg 27-6.
“They were giving up the middle of the field, so we took a shot,” Kaminski said. “Dominic made a heck of a play breaking through tackles. That was the game-changer. It changed the whole momentum.”
It didn’t help that St. Petersburg (1-1) lost top running back Maurice Hemingway late in the second quarter to a knee injury. Hemingway had 11 carries for 48 yards but did not return for the second half.
“His knee is kind of tight,” St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said. “We’ll have it looked at on Monday.”
With Hemingway out, St. Petersburg’s offense sputtered while PHU’s rolled. The Hurricanes (2-0) scored on every possession of the second half except for the last one, when they took a knee.
PHU followed Bonelli’s touchdown with a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ended when Demetri Royer scored on a 2-yard run. On the next series, Kaminski ended a nine-play drive with a 7-yard bootleg.
After a St. Petersburg fumble, the Hurricanes scored their final touchdown on a 17-yard run by Jonah Fiskaa. Fiskaa led all rushers with 57 yards on 11 carries.
“Football is all about momentum,” PHU coach Matt LePain said. “When you get it and can keep riding it, that’s a huge thing. That (Bonelli) catch changes everything. You miss those, and you’re really scratching to get out of it.”
LePain said he also was impressed with his defense.
“I’m dumbfounded our defense is playing as well as it is right now,” LePain said. “I know they’re good, and they play real hard and are scrappy. It’s just that they all do their job. It’s nice to see right now.”
The only offense St. Petersburg had was Covington. He had a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter. He also had punts of 65, 69 and 66 yards. Then there was his 57-yard field goal.
“It wasn’t 100 percent,” Covington said. “It was more like 75. I could tell it was on line and was probably going in.”
Even LePain was impressed.
“I told him I better see him playing on Sundays,” he said; “not Saturdays, Sundays.”
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.