ST. PETERSBURG — Keswick Christian faltered just before halftime and faltered again just after halftime.
The brief letdowns were enough to end the Crusaders' season, as Orlando Pine Castle Christian pulled out a 21-14 victory in Friday's region semifinal.
The Crusaders (6-5) led 14-0 with time running out in the first half. (Keswick scored on an 8-yard pass from Doug Sanson to Trevor Angell in the first, and a 29-yard run by Jaylin Coleman in the second.)
Pine Castle had the ball and was trying to put together one final drive to get on the scoreboard. Keswick thought it had stopped Pine Castle (6-5) on two occasions, but both times pass interference penalties gave the Eagles life.
After the second penalty, with no time left, Pine Castle was given an extra play and scored on a touchdown pass. Then, to start the second half, Keswick fumbled away the kickoff and the Eagles turned it into eight points for a tie. All the home field momentum was gone.
"(Pine Castle) got some momentum at the end (of the first half) when they got a couple of chances to score," Keswick coach Rick Sanson said. "We felt coming out (in the second half) if we had a good drive on offense we'd get the momentum back, but botching that kick let them in the end zone and really turned things around."
In the middle of the second half, the Eagles put together a 17-play drive, but the Crusaders stopped them short of the end zone. On Pine Castle's next possession, however, it only took a one-play drive, a 54-yard touchdown pass from Steve Edwards to David Alls, to give the Eagles the lead for good.
Keswick started its season 0-3 and reached the playoffs at 6-4.
"A lot of people thought it was over for us, but we rallied back and that's a tremendous thing for these guys," Sanson said.