LARGO — The heated rivalry between Largo and Clearwater came down to an extra-point attempt with less than 2 minutes remaining Friday night.
After a furious two-touchdown comeback in the final quarter, Clearwater needed only to convert the extra point to tie the game.
But before the Tornadoes could line up for the kick, officials penalized them for excessive celebration after Gage Nix caught his third touchdown pass from quarterback Jaylen White.
The penalty backed Clearwater up 15 yards. The snap was low, and Largo defenders jumped high. The kick was blocked.
Largo recovered the ensuing onside kick and then kneeled three times to seal a 27-26 win.
Before that final play, nothing was certain in a game that ebbed and flowed with great performances and big plays on both sides.
Perhaps the biggest star was Largo junior receiver Collin Cervoni, who completed a 35-yard pass on a trick end-around play and caught three passes for 117 yards, including touchdowns of 55 and 44 yards.
“I’ve been waiting a long, long time to have a breakout game,” Cervoni said. “(Friday), it felt great to make some big plays in a game that is so big for us.”
Both of Cervoni’s touchdown catches came in the second half, on solid reads by Cervoni and quarterback Jeremy Thomas (10 completions in 19 attempts for 203 yards).
The first, the 55-yarder, came in the third quarter. Said Cervoni, “I blocked like it was a screen and then broke upfield and was wide open.”
Cervoni’s second score came in the fourth quarter on a read off a safety where he again broke wide open. “(Thomas) and I both saw the plays and made the reads,” Cervoni said. “We were on the same page.”
Cervoni’s touchdowns put Largo (4-1) up by two scores, setting the stage for the frenzied comeback by Clearwater (2-2).
The Tornadoes kept plowing ahead with solid running by Ti’lan Mcgee (18 rushes, 111 yards) and splash plays by Nix.
In the end, Largo coach Marcus Paschal was pleased his team won but upset with some of the mistakes and decisions it made.
“We can be so much better than what we’re playing,” Paschal said. “I can’t wait to see the film and learn from this and get better. We have a lot of things we still need to clean up.”