BROOKSVILLE — With the Bright House Sports Network cameras shining brightly along the sidelines, the teams on the gridiron Thursday night were involved in a slugfest.
After controlling play for three and a half quarters, Nature Coast fell to visiting East Lake 19-7.
The teams went to the locker room in a scoreless tie. Despite outgaining East Lake (7-3) 149-49 in the first half, Nature Coast (7-3) could not capitalize. On three of the first-half drives for the Sharks, the offense was stopped on fourth and 1, including twice on the Eagles' side of the field and once inside the opposing 5-yard line.
The defensive domination for the Sharks continued after the trip to the locker room. East Lake drove to the Nature Coast 10. With a go-ahead score in hand, Eagles quarterback Sam Shaffer threw an interception in the end zone. Nature Coast defensive back Brenton Nuby returned the pick 101 yards for the touchdown.
"Offensively, we put our defense into bad positions," Nature Coast coach Mark Lee said. "The defense really did everything it could for us tonight."
Once the Eagles got the ball back, another drive finally resulted in a touchdown when Brandon Vazquez plunged in for the first of what ended up being his three touchdowns. Things began to fall apart for the Sharks when Nature Coast quarterback C.J. Baker fumbled inside his own 20 on the next possession setting up the second Vazquez touchdown.
Nature Coast and East Lake have first-round postseason games to look forward to next week. Lee is hoping this loss doesn't negatively affect the confidence of his team.
"I hope this game has the same effect on the team as (our loss to Dunnellon)," Lee said. "Our guys do a good job of playing ticked."