DUNEDIN — Something about St. Petersburg is so different from other teams.
The Green Devils win not by playing classic football, but by playing ugly, by grinding their opponents, then gleefully vacuuming up the pieces.
On Friday, St. Petersburg did not always look nice, and sure enough it won, rallying in the second half to beat Dunedin 20-10 in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.
"We're a second-half team," Green Devils linebacker Cody Pogoreic said. "It didn't always look great, but we were able to get it done."
The first half for St. Petersburg was sloppy and penalty-filled. The Green Devils fumbled three times, losing two of them. And they committed three personal foul penalties.
The Falcons made them pay as T.J. Day kicked a 30-yard field goal and Ryan Singer ran 2 yards on a quarterback keeper to make it 10-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Green Devils answered with a 56-yard pass from Chris Winiecki to Malik Wilson that set up a 26-yard field goal by Devon Papandrew to cut the deficit to 10-3 at the half.
At the start of the third quarter, St. Petersburg appeared to have the momentum on a drive in which it used six running backs to march to the Falcons' 10-yard line. But the drive ended when Winiecki threw an interception — the Green Devils' third turnover of the game.
That moment seemed like the perfect time for St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio to call timeout, scream, stomp his feet and throw his hands in the air.
Yet still trailing in the third game, Fabrizio was undisturbed.
He simply kept the faith, and his team practiced everything he had preached. It ran the ball well, played superb defense and Fabrizio pushed every button but the one marked "panic."
The Green Devils' comeback started when Dominic James recorded a sack and forced a fumble. St. Petersburg capitalized on the turnover as Wilson ran 10 yards for a score to tie the game at 10 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Green Devils forced two more fumbles, both recovered by Pogoreic. Those turnovers were converted into points as Papendrew kicked a 33-yard field goal and Wilson ran 21 yards for a score.
"Even though we were down in the first half, I thought we were still okay," Fabrizio said. "We were able to put some things together, thanks to our defense."