ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg's approach on offense is a rather quaint reversion to the days before sock 'em gave way to slick 'em.
The Green Devils use a solid wall of linemen to pound defenders into submission, with a quartet of running backs banging away behind them.
It is a brutal concept, but it produced big results in a 21-9 victory over Countryside.
"St. Petersburg's ground game tore us up," Cougars coach John Davis said. "They were just more physical on both sides of the line and wore us down."
In the first half, Countryside's defense recovered two fumbles, one of which led to a 40-yard field goal by William Griswold.
On the Green Devils' next possession, they poked and prodded until they found a weakness.
Then they exploited it.
With its meat-grinder attack, St. Petersburg (2-1) marched 67 yards. The big play came when Malik Wilson ran off tackle 34 yards for a touchdown put the Green Devils ahead 7-3 at the half.
Countryside (2-1) started the second half by recovering an onside kick, then scoring on a 22-yard pass from Jimbo Chmelik to Alton Taylor. The extra point, though, was blocked.
Trailing 9-7 to start the fourth quarter, St. Petersburg stayed with its power game and left Cougars defenders groggy and rubber-legged.
A 73-yard drive midway through the fourth produced the winning score when the Green Devils' Ben Sams ran 6 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
St. Petersburg added another score on Wilson's 3-yard run to put the game out of reach.
"Our game plan was to keep pounding the rock," said Wilson, who finished with 102 yards rushing. "It worked. Countryside couldn't stop the run."
The win was big for the Green Devils, who lost to East Lake last week on a bad snap that sailed over the punter's head and resulted in a safety.
"It was a tough week for us after that loss," St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said. "I'm glad we were able to bounce back. We need to beat good programs, and we found a way to do that tonight."
Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected]