CLEARWATER — A single drop of blood rested on the forehead of Tarpon Springs coach George Kotis following the Spongers' last-minute 15-14 win over Countryside.
A fitting tribute, perhaps, to Kotis' go-for-broke attitude.
After Danny Chaisson plunge into the end zone from less than a yard with 46 seconds remaining in Friday's game to cut Countryside's lead to 14-13, Kotis rolled the dice, calling for a fake extra point.
After receiving the snap, Tarpon Springs holder Josiah Fisk rolled to his left and, with the option to run or pass, dumped a short throw to Drew Kier in the corner of the end zone to successfully execute the two-point conversion and help the Spongers (4-0) escape with the win.
"We preach aggressive football," said Kotis, who received a small gash on his forehead from headbutting a helmet-clad Sponger in celebration. "We don't want to tie people.
"In a non-district game, we really don't want to put them in anymore risk of injury. We were getting out of here either way. Right after we scored, I put my headphones down."
Tarpon's winning score was the culmination of a 17-play drive that started on its 16-yard line with just less than eight minutes remaining.
The Spongers converted three fourth downs on the drive, including a fourth and one from its 25, and converted on second and 32 with a 37-yard Ladarrius Only run into Cougar territory.
Facing first and goal from the 6, Tarpon ran three times up the middle to within inches of the goal line before Chaisson bulldozed in for the score.
Countryside (3-2) tried to attempt a potential winning field goal after returning the ensuing kickoff to its 43-yard line and moving down to the Spongers 27.
But Alton Taylor was ruled down inbounds after catching a 5-yard pass from Jimbo Chmelik, and Countryside couldn't get the field goal off before time expired.
"I'm proud of our kids," Countryside coach John Davis said. "We didn't quit. We got back down there in field goal range with only 40 seconds to go. … They fought all the way. When things looked bad, there was no letdown."
Countryside took a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter on a 58-yard play-action pass from Chmelik (11-for-19, 202 yards) to Jalen Goodloe.
Tarpon Springs, trailing 7-0 at halftime, took advantage of Dawrence Roberts' fumble at his 6-yard line to tie the score at seven on Fisk's 2-yard carry.
Chmelik hooked up with Todd Shorter midway through the second quarter on a 57-yard catch and run for the game's first score.
Bryan Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2216.