CLEARWATER — It took a half, but Clearwater eventually wore out Boca Ciega in the first Class 6A, District 6 game of the season for both schools. The Tornadoes broke open a tie at halftime and defeated the Pirates 51-35. Clearwater outscored Boca Ciega 30-14 in the second half.
"We don't have guys who play both ways, so we feel that in the end we can wear teams down," Clearwater coach Don Mesick said. "Boca Ciega is a great team, but they just didn't have the depth to keep up."
And they didn't have the defense to keep up with the duo of quarterback Austin Day and receiver Jacquez Jones. Jones caught two touchdown passes and added a 75-yard kickoff return for a TD. Day finished with 172 yards passing and five touchdown passes.
With the score tied at 21 at halftime, Clearwater fumbled the second-half kickoff. Quarterback Osby Green then hit Jaylin Kimbrough on a 3-yard shovel pass to cap an eight-play, 30-yard drive to make it 27-21. The point after failed.
Then Clearwater got going.
Adarius Lemons, who finished with 113 rushing yards, scored on a 3-yard run to make it 28-27. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Boca Ciega stepped out of bounds on a punt for an intentional safety to make it 30-27. On the next drive, Day hit Jones on a 66-yard touchdown pass on third down to stretch the score to 37-27.
"That was all the offensive line and a great block by (Grant Wilson) or that catch doesn't happen," Jones said. "It was all about pushing the tempo in the second half. That was our plan."
Clearwater added two more touchdowns late in the fourth quarter on a short run by Garet Chisolm and a pass from Day to Quante Perry.
The first half was much less one-sided. Both teams answered each other's touchdowns. On its first possession, Boca Ciega went 80 yards on five plays. Dsoni Ross had a 20-yard run to start the drive, then ended it with a 50-yard burst up the middle to make it 7-0.
Clearwater came back later in the first quarter when quarterback Austin Day connected with Jones on a 55-yard touchdown pass on third and 10 to tie. Then early in the second quarter, after a bad snap to Green on a punt put the ball on the Pirates' 6-yard line, the Tornadoes took a 14-7 lead. Day hit Grant Wilson on a 6-yard pass on first down for his second touchdown pass.
The Pirates came back with another 80-yard drive early in the second. David Dawson broke a 60-yard run that put the ball on Clearwater's 14. Green then ran it in from there to make it 14-all. That score lasted about 10 seconds.
Jones took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 75 yards untouched for a 21-14 lead. Then, after a blocked punt put the ball on the Tornadoes' 30-yard line, Green threw a 3-yard shovel pass to Jaylin Kimbrough with 20 seconds left to tie.
In the loss, Dawson had 103 rushing yards and Ross 98.