GULFPORT — It wasn't easy, and it certainly didn't look pretty. But in the end, a win was a win for Boca Ciega.
The mistake-prone Pirates (4-6) let Gibbs stay in the game and even threaten late Friday night, but held onto a victory at home thanks to tough defense and a late touchdown.
"The second half, it seemed like we were just shooting ourselves in the foot," Boca Ciega coach Stevie Thomas said. "Too many fumbles and interceptions, but were just lucky that our defense was able to hold us in the game so we could come out with a win."
Despite six turnovers, the Pirates still held a 16-12 lead in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Shaquille Bradford then led Boca Ciega on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Denzal Dillard's 3-yard touchdown run.
"That drive was big for us," said Boca Ciega wide receiver Phadrae White, who finished with two touchdowns. "It sealed victory."
Just minutes earlier, Gibbs (3-7) took advantage of one of four Boca Ciega fumbles and cut the lead to four points with a 2-yard rushing score by quarterback Devontae White, who finished 11-for-35 with 207 yards passing.
"We have to do a lot of improving on all sides of the ball," Thomas said. "We had opportunity to make some plays. Overall, it's a team thing; even the coaches need to improve, too."
The Pirates took a 16-6 lead into halftime. Boca Ciega, however, could have had more, failing to capitalize on three trips inside Gibbs' red zone.
Bradford connected with Phadrae White on two well-thrown touchdowns of 35 and 48 yards. Bradford finished 18-for-32 and had 248 yards passing en route to leading the Pirates to 349 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, Boca Ciega held Gibbs to 189 yards of offense.
Gibbs took an early lead after Bradford fumbled the ball while being sacked on his own 19-yard line. Devontae White found wide receiver Brejone Baker open in the corner of the end zone for the Gladiators.