SPRING HILL — A berth in the postseason may not be in the cards for Nature Coast, but the next best thing for the Sharks was going into Booster Stadium and denying rival Springstead its perfect season.
The Eagles were upset Friday night by Nature Coast 14-7 in front of a capacity crowd on hand to witness history.
Playing in his final prep contest, Sharks star tailback Matt Breida bounced back from a back injury sustained last week against Hernando to shoulder the load. The stout Springstead defense had stopped the best running backs the North Suncoast has had to offer, but Breida became only the second player to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles, carrying the ball 17 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
"We wanted to have some diversity in the running game between (Dominique) Rawlins, (Dylan) Savoury and Breida," Nature Coast coach Charles Liggett said, "and I think we did a good job of that."
Springstead (9-1) didn't have much success offensively, with quarterback Tyler Mahla struggling. Although he rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries, Mahla's two interceptions caused the Eagles to lose the turnover battle.
"We moved the ball well, but we made some bad decisions at times," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said. "They have a lot of speed on defense so you can't make those kinds of mistakes."
Liggett did a solid job of preparing Nature Coast (6-4) defensively for the Springstead option attack. Defensive end Rohan Blackwood was seemingly always in the best position to make a play and got his 14th sack of the season, among the state leaders.
The Eagles were shut out the first three quarters, and a 67-yard touchdown run from Breida with 4:20 left seemed to be the nail in the coffin for Springstead's hopes at 10-0. Mahla bounced back with a four passes downfield and a 3-yard touchdown run from Nic Pasarela to give the team and fans hope.
The onside kick failed, but Springstead held Nature Coast and got the ball back for one last gasp with just more than one minute left to play. A few completions from Mahla set up a Hail Mary opportunity with 3.5 seconds on the clock. The ball was tipped by tight end Luke McLeod at the 3, who held his head in his hand in disappointment.