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Nature Coast

Fantastic 4: Smith tops 200 yards in Nature Coast victory

Hernando Today

Published:   |   Updated: May 25, 2013 at 02:10 AM

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BROOKSVILLE Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett posted flyers around the school, and even the football team's Facebook page featured a similar status update.

The message: Don't miss Friday night's spring game to see what the future of number four has in store for the Shark faithful.

Nature Coast hosted Tarpon Springs at Shark Tank Stadium with freshman running back DeShawn Smith sporting that digit on his jersey, just like his predecessors Rian Williams, Tevin Drake and Matt Breida.

Liggett admitted that Smith was issued that vaunted number with a purpose, though he said he still called him "44" in practice this week. Before Smith could be called "four," he had to earn it, Liggett said.

Based on his performance against the visiting Spongers, Smith should have no trouble proving he belongs in the growing line of standout Shark runners. He rushed 13 times for 217 yards with two long touchdowns as Nature Coast rallied in the second half for a 33-24 victory.

"That's why he's got four on," Liggett said. "He played as well as we thought he would. He did well. I'm excited. It was good stuff."

After trailing at halftime, 21-17, Nature Coast bounced back in the second half and limited Tarpon Springs to a late field goal to establish some positive momentum as it concludes its spring program.

"The winning aspect is good. It always feels good when you win, right?" Liggett said. "But we did some things good and we didn't do some things good. We've got a long way to go maturity-wise, and I'm talking game maturity."

???The two teams failed to score in the opening quarter, but that trend turned quickly in the second.

It started with an extremely impressive run by Smith within the first minute. He initially fumbled after receiving the handoff, yet managed to corral the loose the ball and work his way to the left sideline.

Once he broke free, he simply out-raced the defense down the field for an 80-yard score.

The Spongers responded with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Battyanyi to Mitchell Wilcox at the 7:47 mark, then exactly two minutes later took advantage of another Smith fumble, Brian Anderson falling on it in the end zone.

Smith atoned in 30 seconds, bursting up the middle on a pitch for a 51-yard scamper to pay dirt.

"I give all the credit to my O-line. They opened holes for me a little bit," Smith said.

Battyanyi found Casey Luckenbill completely uncovered for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 2:01 to go in the half, putting Tarpon Springs back in front.

Austin Lacy, who went a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points for the Sharks, connected on a 42-yard field goal to close the half.

Just short of two minutes into the second half, Jonathan Thomas picked off a pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, Roshawn Williams sacked Battyanyi in the end zone for a safety.

The Spongers' only scoring following the intermission came via a 25-yard field goal by Louie Zervos, cutting the Nature Coast lead to 26-24 with 6:04 to play.

Liggett credited his coaching staff for finding the right defensive tweaks in the second half.

"We were trying to play our '30' front stuff and our base stuff," Liggett said of his defense in the first half. "At halftime we adjusted the way we were playing our front versus their zone blocking and went to straight man coverage, and brought more force in the right places. We were able to get control up front."

Ryan Quigley's 1-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone with 3:15 to go put the game away for the host Sharks.

Castro, Quigley and Jamison Carnegie are locked in a quarterback battle as Nature Coast seeks to finally establish its passing attack.

Castro started and completed 4-of-10 passes for 37 yards, tossing two interceptions. Quigley went 3-for-6 for 59 yards and Jamison misfired on his lone pass attempt, though he did have a 60-yard run.

Liggett said he would have to examine the game film before making any determination on how that trio's play impacted the race for the starting spot.

Overall, as he prepares for his third season at the helm, Liggett said he was "reserved" about the Sharks' showing.

"We made too many mistakes and had too many issues to be totally satisfied," Liggett said. "But by winning, it gives them the confidence they need so now over the summer we can grow up some. We grew up a little bit tonight."

(352) 544-5288

Nature Coast 33, Tarpon Springs 24

Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4

TS 0 21 0 3 - 24

NCT 0 17 9 7 - 33

Individual Scoring:

NCT - Smith 80 run (Lacy kick)

TS - Wilcox 5 pass from Battyanyi (Zervos kick)

TS - Anderson fumble recovery in end zone (Zervos kick)

NCT - Smith 51 run (Lacy kick)

TS - Luckenbill 19 pass from Battyanyi (Zervos kick)

NCT - Lacy 42 field goal

NCT - Thomas 59 interception return (Lacy kick)

NCT - Safety (Williams sack)

TS - Zervos 25 field goal

NCT - Quigley 1 run (Lacy kick)


First Downs 16 14

Atts./Rushing Yds. 53-151 36-328

Comps./Pass/Atts/Int. 8-11-1 7-17-2

Passing Yds. 79 96

Total Offense 64-230 53-424

Return Yds. 4-75 2-44

Punts/Avg. 5-31.8 3-31.7

Fumbles/Lost 1-0 2-1

Penalties 9-93 12-100

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