BROOKSVILLE — They say a rivalry isn’t a rivalry if one team wins all the time. Friday night Springstead cemented its rivalry with Nature Coast.
The Eagles, gaining a victory in the series for the first time in eight years, overtook Nature Coast 24-7 at the Shark Tank.
“It’s so nice to get the monkey off our back,” Springstead coach Mike Garofano said. “Nature Coast always plays us so tough, so this feels amazing.”
Springstead (2-1) came out strong after winning the opening coin toss and receiving the kickoff. The Eagles went 12 plays and 77 yards for a touchdown when Tyler Mahla took the ball in from 3 yards out on a quarterback keeper.
Mahla’s circus-like night was far from over. Later in the first quarter, he had his first punt blocked by Nature Coast defensive back Jacob Grantz. The play set up the Sharks (0-2) for their first offensive touchdown of the season when tailback DeShawn Smith scampered in from 4 yards out.
Just when it looked as if the contest was going to be another in the series of gridiron slugfests, Springstead jumped ahead before the half. Pinned on its 5 with 2:34 left, Mahla led a drive to the 12 on which he completed 5 of 7 passes, setting up a 39-yard field goal from Tyler Toth to put the Eagles up 10-7.
Everything seemed to click for the visitors after that. Mahla began to take advantage of a young defensive front, rushing for a career-high 187 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns.
“We’re not who we used to be inside the 30s,” Nature Coast coach Charles Liggett said. “We are young on both sides of the ball right now, but we’re improving every week.”
The Springstead defense, with two turnovers and two sacks, held Nature Coast to 101 total yards.