LAND O'LAKES — It had all the markings of a preseason game, with sluggishness and spotty execution leading the way.
But for Land O' Lakes it ended well enough, in a 14-3 victory over Anclote on Friday night.
"We played extremely hard, but …we have got to be more disciplined," coach Brain Wachtel said.
On one third-quarter possession the swarming Gators defense forced an Anclote punt, only for the drive to be extended by — in order — a roughing the punter, a muffed punt and a successful fake by the Sharks. Land O' Lakes also committed three turnovers but the defense prevented those from doing any damage.
"The whole defense flew to the ball. That's what we want to do," Wachtel said. Anclote was held to just 78 total yards. Bobby Austin had 2 1/2 of the Gators' six sacks and added an interception.
Senior Harrison Wood ran for 85 yards on 17 carries, including the clinching score with 1:44 to go. The other TD came on LOL's first possession, when sophomore Ethan Weilant hit Shaheed Salmon from 4 yards out.
Anclote's Terrell Martin and Willie Barrett had strong games at linebacker. Both teams played their starters the entire way.
Sharks quarterback John Forgione thought he'd connected on two touchdowns in the first half. On the Sharks' second drive, set up by a 50-yard kickoff return by Trent Crawford, Forgione hit Tymere Carter in the left side of the end zone. He appeared to get one foot down but the pass was ruled incomplete and the Sharks settled for CJ Peppe's 29-yard field goal. Later Forgione found tight end Austin Rumer over the middle for a 41-yard score but it was called back for holding.
Stefan Zapata also had an interception for the Gators in a second half when Anclote's only first downs other than the fake punt came on penalties.
It was Wachtel's 34th birthday. The entire team serenaded him in relatively on-key fashion after the victory.