ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs quarterback Josh Rembert was benched for disciplinary reasons and missed the first quarter of Friday's Class 5A, District 9 game against Pinellas Park.
The Gladiators trailed 7-0 at that point and needed a spark.
Rembert provided it once he got on the field.
The ultimate escape artist, Rembert bought enough time with his feet to throw for 207 yards and three touchdowns in Gibbs' 20-14 victory.
The win clinches the Gladiators' first district title in school history.
"I knew I had to come in and make some plays to help my team win," Rembert said.
On his first score, Rembert found Jarvis West on a 22-yard pass to tie the score.
Then on the final play of the first half, Rembert scrambled to his left, reversed field then heaved a 40-yard pass to Emmanuel Stewart for a touchdown to go up 14-7.
The Patriots (4-4, 2-1) got a break in the third quarter when they pounced on a fumble at the Gladiators 3.
Oraian Bentley capped the short drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 14.
Gibbs (5-3, 3-0) answered on its next possession when Rembert lofted a 77-yard pass to Jarqine Butler for a score. The extra point was missed.
Trailing 20-14, Pinellas Park twice drove into Gibbs territory, but the drives ended with interceptions.
"We knew this was going to be our toughest game of the year," Gladiators coach Donnie Abraham said. "Pinellas Park was strong. Neither team wanted to lose. We just responded to some adversity and made plays when we needed to. That's the way it's been all season for us. We've come such a long way."
The loss means the Patriots will play St. Petersburg next week for the runnerup spot in 5A-9.