1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

Football: Nature Coast 32, East Lake 25

Big plays bail out the Sharks, who trade scores with the Eagles much of the night.
Nature Coast receiver Cai Teague hauls in a 23-yard touchdown pass to put the Sharks up 13-7 over East Lake in first-half action. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
Nature Coast receiver Cai Teague hauls in a 23-yard touchdown pass to put the Sharks up 13-7 over East Lake in first-half action. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Aug. 24, 2019

BROOKSVILLE — As should probably be expected in the first game of the season, there were a lot of mistakes and negative plays for both East Lake and Nature Coast. But there were also a few big plays, which proved to be key for the Sharks.

Trailing by a point at halftime, Nature Coast scored on a third-quarter interception return, an 88-yard kickoff return and a fourth-quarter 65-yard touchdown run to outlast the Eagles 32-25 on Friday night.

“That’s kind of the way we’re going to be right now,’’ Nature coast coach Cory Johns. “We’ve got guys going both ways and we’re going to have to figure some things out. But we did make some big plays."

Nature Coast receiver Kinyatah Morgan leaps for yardage during the first half. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Both teams scored twice in the first half, and all four touchdowns came on pass plays. East Lake scored first on its second possession. After a three-and-out to start, the Eagles put together an eight-play, 63-yard drive that ended when Matt Trotto hit Hunter Swetokos on a 29-yard touchdown pass.

Nature Coast did even better on its second possession. With the running game stalled, Fabian Burnett threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Dedric Hall on third down to tie the score at 7.

It stayed that way until midway through the second quarter, when Burnett struck again. This time he hit Cai Teague on a 23-yard pass on fourth-and-8 that made the score 13-7. A two-point run attempt failed.

The Sharks had a chance to take a two-touchdown lead at halftime, but things fell apart in the final minute. After a Teague interception, Nature Coast moved the ball to the East Lake 14-yard line. But a fumble gave the Eagles the ball with a minute to play.

Trotto then hit Swetokos in stride for a 60-yard completion. Two plays later, and with no time on the clock, Trotto carried it in from a yard out to make the halftime score 14-13.

East Lake receiver Hunter Swetokos hauls in a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 7-0 over Nature. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Then came the second-half big plays for Nature Coast. On East Lake’s second play, Michyl Shaw stepped in front of a Trotto pass and returned it 35 yards to make the score 19-14.

“I read the play and stepped in front of it,’’ Shaw said. “I just saw green grass from there. I do think that got us pumped up a bit.’’

East Lake added a 33-yard field goal by Michael Sombanditis to cut the score to 19-17. Kinyatah Morgan made sure that didn’t last long when he returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Then came a 65-yard run by Lenkel Smith to top off the Sharks scoring.

East Lake scored a late touchdown with two seconds left and got the onside kick. But the hail Mary pass was unsuccessful.


  1. Plant forward Kayla Sieper (10) grabs the rebound over Palm Beach Lakes guard Mia Jones (30) during the second half at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  2. With Mike Trigg, right, back in the lineup, Seffner Christian has a very real shot at returning to the state tournament. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  3. East Lake's Brooke Roberts slaps a ball to leftfield, a hit that led to an error, a base-clearing moment and a race home for Roberts during an 11-3 victory over Durant in last year's Lady 'Canes Spring Classic semifinal. [SCOTT PURKS]
  4. Bobby Richardson came out of "retirement" for an opportunity to play for the Vipers. The former CFL defensive tackle previously played under current Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville in 2018. [TAMPA BAY VIPERS/XFL   |  Tampa Bay Vipers/XFL]
  5. Corky Rogers, coach of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, walks across the field as his team celebrates after beating Miami Booker T. Washington in the Class 4A state championship game on Dec. 10, 2011, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Rogers, who won more state titles than any coach in Florida high school football history, died Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 76. [WILL DICKEY  |  AP]
  6. Tampa Catholic's Xavier Floyd, left, and goalkeeper Charlie Gembarowski are in the foreground as Fort Lauderdale University players celebrate their Class 3A championship at Spec Martin Stadium in Deland. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  7. Shorecrest Prep senior Asher Rovin, who missed most of the regular season after sustaining a concussion, strikes the ball past Tallahassee Maclay's Broedy Poppell (21) in the first half at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand on Thursday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  8. Plant junior Nyla Jean not only averages double digits in scoring, but she has a knack for stealing the ball from opponents. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  9. Carrollwood Day’s Milahnie Perry scores 14 points to lead the Patriots, who get a balanced effort in the Class 3A state semifinals. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  10. Shorecrest players hug, cry and console each other after losing to Orange Park St. Johns Country Day in the Class 2A title game at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand. [WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.  |  Special to the Times]
  11. Points were hard to come by in the first half for forward Jakara Akins, left, and Keswick Christian, which trailed Florida A&M 22-16 at the half of a Class 2A state semifinal Wednesday afternoon. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  12. Caitlin Blankenship, along with older sister Brooke, moves on from Academy at the Lakes, which won consecutive state titles, to River Ridge. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]