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Nature Coast was finally able to get a handle on Tavares’ offense on Monday.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, it came just a bit too late.
Tavares forced a late fourth-quarter fumble as Nature Coast was driving deep into Bulldogs territory and converted a fourth-down play in the final minute to upend the Sharks 41-35.
Tavares led 28-21 entering halftime on Friday before the game was suspended due to inclement weather. The teams resumed Monday at Tavares, playing the entire second half.
Quarterback Ja’Juan Story got the Sharks (3-1, 0-1) on the scoreboard Monday after running a quarterback sneak into the end zone from 5 yards out.
Trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter, Nature Coast was on its way to cutting into the Tavares lead, but a fumble on the Bulldogs 10-yard line proved costly.
Nature Coast stopped Tavares on the Bulldogs’ next possession, and the Sharks scored when they got the ball back on Isaac Bailey's 25-yard run into the end zone.
The Sharks were fighting to get the ball back late in the game but were unable to stop Tavares (2-1, 1-0) on fourth down near midfield.
“The kids played hard. They didn’t quit,” Nature Coast Mark Nash said. “The game ended basically on a defensive stand that came up fourth and inches. We thought we stopped them and they ended up getting the first down by literally a quarter of an inch…I’m proud of our ball club. It’s unfortunate that we got beat. The kids are hurt over it but we’re going to bounce back.”
Nash said the Sharks would have had time to run only another play or two had they been able to stop Tavares on fourth and short.
On Friday, Story ran 67 yards for Nature Coast’s first touchdown in a game that spanned four days. Story also threw a 26-yard scoring strike to Anthony Carlucci on Friday.
Bailey had the Sharks’ third touchdown in Friday's first half, scoring on a 15-yard run.