With less than nine minutes to play and trailing Clearwater Central Catholic 10-6, Wesley Chapel put together one of its best offensive drives in recent years, according to coach John Castlemare.
Unfortunately, a fumbled snap on the 7-yard line was the final result of the 11-play, 89-yard drive, and the Wildcats opened the season with a tough four-point defeat.
"They started from the 4, played with heart, power and the want to get down there," Castlemare said. "It was tough that (fumble) happened."
The Marauders led 3-0 at halftime on a 24-yard field goal and took a 10-0 lead on their first drive in the second half.
But the Wildcats needed only one huge play to lift their spirits. Devon Henry ran back the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. Then the defense held CCC to two short drives and got the ball back with 8:57 to play.
During the final drive, tight end Chris Pierre-Charles was transformed into a fullback and saw his first six carries of the game. He gained 33 yards. Jon Mahan had three carries for 42 yards and sophomore quarterback Keegan Tanner had one carry for 13 yards.
Everything was going the Wildcats' way until a snap on the 7-yard line before Tanner was ready.
Still, Castlemare had high praise for his quarterback.
"We have a 10th-grade quarterback running this team right now and he did a great job," he said. "He grew up pretty quick tonight."
Mahan finished with 87 yards on 16 carries, CCC quarterback Eric Miller had 15 rushes for 95 yards and completed 11-of-18 passes for 93 yards. Seven completions were to Nick Newton for 58 yards.