BROOKSVILLE – After upsetting Hernando only four days ago to assure at least a tie at the top of its district, Nature Coast would land in prime position for a postseason berth if the Sharks could upend rival Springstead on Halloween night.
Despite the midweek date, the stands were rowdy for Nature Coast's senior night, and the Sharks responded with a 29-21 victory.
"We were finally able to clean some things up," Nature Coast coach Cory Johns said. "Now we have to wait and find out where we'll be for our next game."
The outcome was in doubt all the way until the end. The teams traded punches early and went to the locker room tied 14-all at the half. The stalemate continued after a scoreless third quarter, but much like their win last Friday, the Sharks (7-2) went back to their faithful rushing attack, led by Mike Weston (20 carries, 166 yards, one touchdown).
The junior tailback, who went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season in the win, rushed for 38 yards on four carries to push Nature Coast inside the 10 with only seven minutes remaining. Taking a breather, Weston was relieved by Zack Powell, who took his first carry 9 yards into the end zone to give the Sharks a 21-14 advantage.
Springstead (6-3) would not be deterred. Junior Nathan Sims (26 carries, 155 yards, two touchdowns) broke off a 50-yard run on the ensuing drive to set the Eagles up in good field position with just over five minutes left. Standout tailback Randy Morgan (15 carries, 55 yards, one touchdown), another 1,000-yard rusher, did the rest, running right up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown to tie the score yet again.
"Their quarterback is what makes that offense go," Johns said. "He's so dangerous, and (defensive coordinator Charles) Liggett came up with a great game-plan on a short week."
The Eagles had scored too quickly, giving the ball back to Weston and the Nature Coast offense. Springstead had been unable to contain the heavy-hitting back throughout the quarter, and that trend continued.
Rushing for more than 50 yards behind Sharks linemen Justin Rockwell and Grantt Beckford, he capped the night with an 11-yard touchdown run with only 46 seconds remaining. Senior Willie Coffey cemented the win with his two-point conversion run.
Nature Coast should have the points under the new FHSAA playoff system to make the field, but with seeding and other games still in the balance, it is wait-and-see time for the Sharks.