ST. PETERSBURG — After Dunedin quarterback Givanni Gonzalez tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Janero Crankfield to pull the Falcons to 41-40 in the second overtime, first-year coach Denis Gillen made his first tough decision of the season.
He sent kicker Ryan Deely back to the sideline and kept his starting offense on the field for the two-point conversion. Gonzalez decided to call his own number and easily sprinted to the corner of the end zone to clinch a 42-41 victory and spark a bench-clearing celebration.
"It was really a no-brainer," Gillen said. "We had the game in our hands and I have faith in our players so we were either going to win or lose on that possession."
It was a back-and-forth contest between two squads hoping to turn things around in 2013. Gillen said the victory will do big things for his young team.
"It's monumental to open up the season with a victory," said Gillen. "After the coaching change over the summer and the kids have just hung in there and stayed on track. I couldn't be prouder of them."
For the Rebels it was a tough home loss and one they will have to quickly bounce back from. Dixie Hollins had two first-half possessions where it had first and goal inside the 5 and failed to score.
Gonzalez threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Falcons (1-0). Dunedin also rushed for 245 yards. Kabriel Jackson led Dixie with 160 rushing yards and a touchdown. Davontae Harrington had four catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.