ST. PETERSBURG — If there were any doubts about Austyn Causey's readiness to lead St. Petersburg High School, he answered them in a big way Friday night against Gibbs.
The sophomore threw for three touchdowns to three different receivers and ran the ball in from just outside the goal line twice, accounting for all of St. Petersburg's touchdowns in the Green Devils' 41-8 victory over the Gladiators.
After the game, the quarterback was modest about his role in the win.
"The (offensive) line did very well, and the receivers caught the ball," Causey said.
In addition to his three touchdowns, Causey completed 9 of 15 passes for 144 yards.
Both teams got off to shaky starts.
The Green Devils fumbled on the first play of the game. The Gladiators then muffed the punt on their opening drive, giving St. Petersburg the ball at the Gibbs 15. Five plays later, Causey connected with Jarrett O'Connell for the game's first score.
Gibbs responded with its lone touchdown of the night, a 95-yard kickoff return by DaJuan Johnson. That score also gave the Gladiators their only lead of the game.
With about two minutes left in the first quarter, lightning delayed the game for an hour. Gibbs' first play back on the field was its second fumble, which led to Causey's first of two scoring runs.
Down 16 to open the second half, Gibbs looked to pass but with very little success. Some of that can be attributed to St. Petersburg's defense, which frequently swarmed and sacked quarterback Tyrell Hubbard-Smith.
"The kids were focused," St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said. "We wanted to make sure they got off to a good start."
As for his sophomore quarterback, Fabrizio smiled and praised his poise.
"He's one of those kids that nothing rattles him," he said.