Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Football: Nature Coast 29, Pasco 28

DADE CITY — As Nature Coast's hero limped toward his team, a conquered Pirate flag with an impaled Pasco helmet rose above the visitors' end zone at W.F. Edwards Stadium.

"Sink the ship!" the Sharks chanted.

NCT did that once again, using fourth-quarter magic to rally from 19 down and torpedo powerhouse Pasco with a 29-28 victory. The Pirates (2-2, 0-1) saw their Class 5A, District 6 championships suffer a major blow and have lost all three games against NCT — by a combined five points.

"They may have more talent than we do," Sharks coach Charles Liggett said, "but tonight …we had something a little bit more, I guess."

That something was DeShawn Smith, who battled cramps all night but rushed for 115 yards and scored three of his team's four touchdowns — including the highlight-reel winner with 2:48 left.

NCT (2-2, 2-0) needed his heroics after Pasco jumped to a 19-0 lead, thanks to touchdown catches by Nate Craig and Bowman Archibald and Jaquan Clower's 8-yard TD rush.

But the Sharks' black-shirt defense kept them in the game. Bryant Warkentine and Christian Maner both recovered first-quarter fumbles inside the NCT 30 to end scoring chances.

Smith finally sparked the offense with 1:27 left in the first half, when he raced 40 yards for a score. Two plays later, he scooped a Pasco fumble and sprinted 23 yards into the end zone — and added the two-point conversion rush for good measure.

"It's just about how bad you want it," Smith said.

After Pasco's Malik Johns started the second half with a touchdown rush, NCT's Joseph Leonard snagged an interception — one of the Pirates' five turnovers. That set up Maner's 9-yard touchdown.

A Pasco safety extended its lead to 28-21, so when a three and out gave the Sharks the ball at their own 33 with 6:17 left, Liggett already decided what two-point play he'd call to try to win the game.

"And I was just praying to God that we'd get that chance," Liggett said.

And he got it, thanks to Smith.

The shifty, 5-foot-8 sophomore took a handoff at midfield and rushed to his right. The Pirates nearly dragged him down, but he kept his balance and steadied himself. He spun off of the ground, darted left, cut right and sprinted 50 yards down the sideline for his third touchdown rush of the season.

"Score," Smith said. "Just score."

Then NCT made the most of Liggett's play call. Quarterback Ryan Quigley rolled left and threw to a diving Lenny Beetz for the two-point conversion to give the Sharks the first lead of the night.

Pasco had a final chance to win, but Wisconsin commit Rohan Blackwood had a key sack, and Pasco faltered on fourth down, helping the Sharks sink the Pirates.


Matt Baker can be reached at or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

Football: Nature Coast 29, Pasco 28 09/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  2. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule: Stanley Cup champion Penguins, expansion Golden Knights among the coming attractions

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here are the home games with the most intriguing storylines:

    The champs

    (Oct. 12, Oct. 21)

    The two-time defending champion Penguins make two early trips to Tampa. [AP photo]
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here is the full 2017-18 schedule.

    The Lightning's Brayden Point celebrates a goal during a game against the Ottawa Senators in February in Tampa. [AP photo]
  5. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.