ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs and St. Petersburg are separated by a couple miles, but on the football field the programs are far apart. The Green Devils, loaded with experienced players, showed just how far Friday in a convincing 33-0 win over the Gladiators.
St. Petersburg held Gibbs to 187 total yards, including 38 yards rushing. And it wore out the Gladiators with a consistent running attack that gained 171 yards and scored three touchdowns. Even the Green Devils' defense scored.
"It's the first game and you have to get started on the right foot," St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said. "Any time you can beat a team that is only eight blocks away from you is huge."
Gibbs, under first-year coach Rick Kravitz, was hoping to get off to a fast start. Instead, the Gladiators fumbled on their first series.
St. Petersburg got on the board first when quarterback Rob Tribolet ran in from 5 yards out. The run was set up by a 35-yard pass to Tyler Lewis two plays earlier.
It became 9-0 later in the second quarter on a Parker Bryant 23-yard field goal. The game slipped away from Gibbs on a nice defensive play by senior Sharrod Graham.
On first and 15 from the 19, Graham got to quarterback Brevet Killett just as he was trying to hand off. Graham knocked the ball loose then scooped it up in the end zone for a touchdown. It was his first touchdown on any level of football.
"That's huge," Fabrizio said. "Any time the defense scores it just brings everybody up. And for it to be Sharrod, he never speaks, he never smiles. That was a great play for him."
He was excited enough after the game to speak a little bit about the play.
"The secondary had good coverage, our linebackers made their reads, the defense freed me up and I was able to get back there and make a play," Graham said. "I've never scored before, but there's more to come."
Leading 19-0 at the half, the Green Devils got nothing going on offense in the third quarter. But Gibbs, which had 15 penalties for 100 yards and two turnovers, could not take advantage.
St. Petersburg iced the game in the fourth quarter when DeAngelo Reeves broke off a 90 yard touchdown run and Darius Miller added a 44 yard touchdown run.