ST. PETERSBURG — For 21/2 quarters Friday, St. Petersburg was sleepwalking through its game at district rival Gibbs.
The Green Devils managed just 60 yards of total offense in the first half, all of it coming on 16 carries. The passing game — 0-for-3 in the first half — was nonexistent.
The only unit keeping the game close was the defense, which stacked up Gibbs running back Michael Kendricks twice on the 1-yard line late in the second quarter as St. Petersburg trailed by three at the half.
It took a bold call from coach Joe Fabrizio to wake the Green Devils from their slumber, but it was the momentum changer they needed in a 21-14 victory that has the Green Devils in prime position to earn the runnerup playoff spot in Class 5A, District 10.
Jarvis West scored a 1-yard TD to give Gibbs a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Lined up in punt formation on fourth and 18 from midfield midway through the third quarter, St. Pete upback Barry Williamson took the snap and threw to Dondre Davis for a 30-yard gain and the Green Devils' fourth first down of the game.
"It's a momentum game," Fabrizio said. "Gibbs did a great job in the first half holding the football so we could never get any continuity on offense. … Our kids know that we're a second-half team."
Four plays later, a dinged up Ben Sams ran up the middle for a touchdown from a yard out, then carried in the two-point conversion to make the score 14-11.
From there, the Green Devils took control. After forcing a three and out, St. Pete took over at its 33 and moved to the Gibbs' 8, mostly behind the running of sophomore Rashad Lewis (20 carries, 112 yards) before Devon Papandrew booted a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at 14 with 6:46 remaining. Papandrew had a 41-yarder in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Green Devils recovered a loose ball at the Gladiators' 40. Two plays later, St. Pete quarterback Chris Winiecki found Malik Wilson for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Green Devils its first lead.