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CLEAN & COMFY WIN

Nature Coast beats Central for first time; teams on best behavior.

No one will talk about the big brawl between Central and Nature Coast this morning.

That's because the teams lined up in single file and shook hands like gentlemen Friday night, even after the Sharks ripped the Bears for a 44-6 victory in the season opener. It was the Sharks' first win in the series.

What many will be talking about is Sharks junior quarterback Ja'Juan Story. He picked up his first official scholarship offer this week from Florida International, then validated the offer with his play. Story started the game at receiver, but threw the first pass on a reverse and primarily played quarterback for injured starter C.J. Baker.

Story added two huge touchdown runs, one for 32 yards and a bootleg in the second half for 48 yards. He finished with eight carries for 102 yards and two scores.

Baker spent most of the night on the bench with a left knee injury. Lee said he had surgery on the knee then tweaked it in practice, keeping him sidelined for precautionary reasons.

Nature Coast running back Tevin Drake led all rushers with 16 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Even third-string quarterback Brenton Nuby proved lethal, taking the ball 71 yards for a touchdown on his first running play. And Story's brother, Antwan, got things going with the first touchdown of the game and 59 yards of his own.

"They deserved to win," Central coach Cliff Lohrey said. "They played better than us. Everyone knows they have some electrifying players, and those guys performed. We certainly didn't help our case obviously with some turnovers."

After Nature Coast (1-0) took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Central star Steven Read took the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-6 after a missed extra point. But two Bears' turnovers was the difference with a pair of fumbled snaps landing on the Bears' 1 to set up Drake's first score, then one into the end zone that resulted in a safety.

Nature Coast senior Justin Beetz finished with three fumble recoveries and a sack to highlight the defensive effort.

Nature Coast looked sluggish early, but Lee attributed that to several factors.

"We didn't have a spring game, we didn't have a fall game so we weren't able to work out some of those kinks," Lee said. "...We were a lot better in the second half."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@sptimes.com or (813) 421-3886.

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