VENICE — St. Petersburg scored two first-quarter touchdowns, then held on to defeat Venice 28-21 Friday night.
The Green Devils (10-1) move on to the Class 5A region semifinals against host Manatee.
"This is absolutely not an upset," Green Devils coach Joe Fabrizio said. "The general perception is that Pinellas County teams couldn't do well outside the county. The kids felt like they didn't get any respect."
The Green Devils stopped Venice on its opening drive, then went 76 yards on eight plays for the first score. Ben Sams, who led St. Petersburg with 135 yards rushing, scored from 10 yards out.
"I'm not sure what they expected," Fabrizio said.
On its next drive, St. Petersburg drove 56 yards to go up 14-0 when David Jones snuck it in from the 1.
"We had a tough time getting going offensively," Venice coach John Peacock said. "It was the first time we were shutout in a half all year."
Venice closed the gap in the third quarter when Trey Burton hit Josh Boyle on a 51-yard pass.
Then the Green Devils got a big punt return by Dondre Davis. Though the Indians stiffened, Fabrizio called a fake field goal, and Adam Christner ran for a first down to extend the drive. Jones then snuck it in again from the 1 for a 21-7 lead.
"Our special teams coordinator put that in this week," Fabrizio said. "We saw something on film we could take advantage off."
The Indians closed to 21-14. Calvin Robinson later intercepted Burton and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.
"We put in some stunts and stuff this week and had a spy on Burton," Fabrizio said. "We wanted to keep their best player in check and make someone else beat us."