Temple Heights coach Tom Allen wasn't quite sure where his team stood going into Friday night's game with powerful Shorecrest.
He has a better awareness now. The Chargers tarnished Temple Height's season with a 19-7 win in a key Class 2A, District 6 football game.
The win raised the Chargers mark to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the district. Shorecrest, ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A state poll, firmly established themselves atop the district standings while the Eagles fell to 7-1 and 3-1.
"I'm very proud of the kids and what they accomplished," Allen said. "We just may have gone against the best team in the state and we gained a lot of respect and learned a lot about ourselves from this game."
Temple Heights was locked in a 7-7 tie with more than eight minutes remaining in the game when the Chargers' Bullitt McCoun recovered a fumble at Temple Heights' own 45 yard. A few minutes later, Shorecrest's Matt Thomas rambled 27 yards down to the 2-yard-line to set up quarterback Fred Meinke's 2-yard plunge.
"They just had a lot more muscle than we did down the stretch," Allen said. "That was a big difference in the game. We never gave up, but they simply wore us out with their bulk up front and their experience."
Shorecrest put the game out of reach with four minutes remaining in the game when Meinke scrambled around the right side and found Matt Field open to complete a 30-yard scoring pass and give the Chargers a decisive 19-7 lead.
"We thought we were well prepared and we were," said Allen, whose team plays Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic next week and can still gain a berth in the playoffs. "But we did make some mistakes early on and that cost us."
Temple Heights could never mount any serious rushing attack as Shorecrest's dominant defense stifled the high-powered running of the Eagles' 6-2, 225-pound tailback Nate Dorsey. Dorsey gained 80 yards on 18 carries and his biggest gain was in the first quarter on a 15-yard burst off tackle that tied the game at 7. Quarterback Kit Watson was pressured throughout the night by Shorecrest's talented corps of linebackers and the defensive tackles and defensive ends. Watson was sacked five times and couldn't generate any kind of offense.
"We had our chances early on and didn't take advantage of them" Allen said. "But this is how you learn. We're young and improving. Last year they beat us 63-0 and we stayed with them until the end this time. There's work to be done still."