DUNEDIN — Palm Harbor University players lined the opposite end zone as Dunedin and Countryside battled in overtime Monday. The Hurricanes watched intently, their postseason hopes on life support after losing their overtime game to Countryside 13-10 in the first matchup of a three-team tiebreaker to determine a winner and runnerup for Class 5A, District 9.
A Countryside victory over Dunedin would give PHU one more opportunity to lock down its first foray into the playoffs.
Dunedin's Darius Bellamy quickly dashed any hope.
Bellamy, out of the wildcat formation, faked a handoff to Kim Howard and bolted up the middle, running over a Countryside defender on his way into the end zone to give Dunedin a 12-9 victory and secure the Falcons' third straight district title.
"When the ball left the center's hands, I smelled the end zone," Bellamy said.
Countryside, which earned a playoff spot when Dawrence Roberts scored on a 6-yard carry in overtime moments after holding PHU to a field goal, finishes as district runnerup.
"It's 12 minutes. If somebody makes a mistake, you're probably going to get beat," Countryside coach John Davis said. "It's holding your breath the whole time."
Countryside nearly pulled off the district championship if not for a high snap on an extra point attempt. Two plays after Howard's 29-yard touchdown run put Dunedin ahead 6-0 (the extra point was blocked) with half a quarter remaining, Countryside's Jimbo Chmelik found receiver Jalen Goodloe in one-on-one coverage on a post pattern. Goodloe hauled in the throw and outraced the defense to tie the game.
A high snap allowed the Falcons' Ali Cheaib to get a hand on the extra-point attempt.