BROOKSVILLE — The inability of Nature Coast's defense to deliver against Class 3A, District 6 opponents is becoming habitual.
After coming up short in a lightning-delayed game at Tavares on Monday, Nature Coast hosted Leesburg and was dismantled 28-8.
The Sharks (3-2) were able to go back and forth with Tavares, but were shell-shocked from the get-go in Friday's matchup against the Yellow Jackets (3-2).
"I'm not going to make excuses," Nature Coast coach Mark Nash said. "It was hard, but we're not the only team that has had to play two games in one week. We just didn't have a whole lot of time to stop another potent offense."
Leesburg came out and jumped on the Sharks by going up 21-0 in the first half, forcing two turnovers (one interception, one fumble). On the other side of the ball, the usually potent Nature Coast offense was almost completely shut down by the Jacket defensive unit.
After an opening drive that took the Sharks 69 yards, Leesburg blocked Tyler Callaghan's 28-yard field goal attempt. That was the closest Nature Coast got to scoring for the remainder of the half.
Despite outgaining Leesburg 240-201 in total offense, Nature Coast was never able to get its attack going because of mounting turnovers. Nash pointed to the speed of the Yellow Jacket defense that contained both Nature Coast running back Isaac Bailey (28 carries, 101 yards) and quarterback Ja'Juan Story (63 yards rushing, 39 yards passing).
"This has been the first game where we've struggled offensively," Nash said. "(Leesburg has) a lot of speed defensively. This was definitely a punch in the gut."