GULFPORT — After losing last week for the first time this season, St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio was curious to see how his team would react.
The Green Devils responded in an emphatic way Thursday, routing Boca Ciega 45-0 in a nondistrict game that was so lopsided a running clock was used for most of the fourth quarter.
"I was leery as to how we would bounce back," Fabrizio said. "But the guys didn't hang their head. We came out and had our best week of practice and probably our best game of the season."
St. Petersburg's approach was simple. Using a backfield by committee, the Green Devils pounded out yards on the ground.
Ben Sams scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards and Devon Papandrew kicked a 42-yard field goal to put St. Petersburg (6-1) ahead 17-0 at the half.
"We run the ball and when it's working, it sets up everything for us," Fabrizio said.
The Green Devils got their first big play on their opening possession of the third quarter when Malik Wilson ran off-tackle, broke free and scored on a 59-yard run.
Then Dondre Davis got his hands on a Shaquille Bradford pass and returned the interception 38 yards to put the game out of reach.
Things were working so well for St. Petersburg that quarterback David Jones' only passing attempt was completed 40 yards for a touchdown to Marquel Davis.
Ahead 38-0 in the fourth quarter, the Green Devils rounded out the scoring on a 18-yard run by Rashad Lewis.
By then, Sams and Wilson had each rushed for 100 yards. Lewis just missed out with 83.
About the only suspense left was to see if the Pirates (2-4) could score.
Boca Ciega got inside St. Petersburg territory twice in the fourth quarter but had one drive stopped on downs and the other end when the clock expired.
"Last week's loss showed that we can't take anything for granted," Sams said. "We were intense in practice and ready to win this game."