GULFPORT — With the score tied and less than a minute remaining on a third and 12, Boca Ciega’s Chris Phillips knew he had a chance to make a game-winning play for his team.
Sixty yards later, he capitalized on that chance, scoring a touchdown to give Boca Ciega a 21-14 victory against St. Petersburg.
"When we played Lakewood, I had a clutch kick return," Phillips said. "I just knew I had to get out there and score for my team and get the win."
The score capped off a second half in which the Pirates (1-2) outscored the Green Devils 21-0. After losing a lead during the second half of last week’s game against Countryside, Boca Ciega coach Max Smith was happy with his team’s resilience.
"Last week we kind of unraveled," he said. "The first five minutes during the second half it just started going the wrong way and we just kind of pointed fingers and blamed people. We talked about it all week: until the zeroes are across the board they have to stay together.
"Our competition every Friday is us. It’s never about the opponent, it’s about us."
The Pirates’ second-half comeback was buoyed by senior Alfonso Franklin’s big night. Franklin finished with 146 total yards and two touchdowns.
"We were waiting for him to break," Smith said. "He’s done a really good job. If you go back to our spring game, we were totally different because we only had (Phillips). (Franklin) came back during the summer and we do some different things now."
The game turned for the Pirates following a key fourth-down stop at their own goal line. Derrel Kelley had two early touchdowns for the Green Devils (2-1), but he and quarterback Tonio Shavers were unable to find pay dirt on four goal-line carries.
"That’s really where we won the game," Smith said. "Our defensive line for the last three or four years, they’ve been really good. We’ve had some bad dudes up front. Their nickname is the ‘Trench Dogs.’ They control the game."
As soon as the Pirates got the ball back, Phillips said he knew what to do next.
"I knew I had to go in here and do my thing," he said. "I gotta do it for my team."
Boca Ciega travels to Osceola next week while St. Petersburg hosts Seminole.