BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast has its back against the wall for the rest of the season if it wants to make the postseason, and the Sharks know it. Friday night, the team played like it was prepared for whatever it needed to do.
The Sharks outlasted Land O'Lakes, using all three facets of the game to for a 28-17 victory.
Nature Coast (4-3) began the game well, stopping Land O'Lakes returner Harrison Wood on the opening kickoff after he brought it back 60 yards. The special teams unit forced Wood to fumble and recovered the loose ball.
Special teams were key to the victory. Land O'Lakes (1-5) took its first lead at 10-7 in the second quarter, but held it for less than 10 seconds thanks to Sharks returner Jacquez Kincade. The senior had only two kickoff returns, but took the first one back 50 yards before taking this one back 84 yards for a touchdown to give Nature Coast the lead back at 14-10.
"I don't want to play the game over again if (Kincade's kick return) doesn't happen," Nature Coast coach Charles Liggett said. "Momentum was a big difference for us in this one."
The backbone of the Nature Coast attack continued to be tailback Matt Breida, who finished with 26 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. His 72-yard scamper started the scoring in the first quarter. The big night on the ground also put the senior over the century mark in rushing yardage. He has 1,044 for the year after 1,613 in 2011.
Nature Coast defensive end Rohan Blackwood, who already led the team with three sacks this season, took care of the pass rush, hurrying Land O'Lakes quarterback James Pensyl and doubling his season sack total with three in the game. Dylan Miller added two sacks as well starting in place of Joey Berrios.
Pensyl did his best to keep the Gators close. He set career highs in passing with 18 completions in 37 attempts. His 113 yards were spread out to seven targets, including tailback Wood. Wood had his best game since returning from injury, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Pensyl also rushed for a score.
The Sharks have Hernando and Springstead upcoming in two of the next three weeks, both of which are undefeated in Class 6A, District 6 play.