OCALA - Nature Coast appeared to have things wrapped up on Friday night against Ocala-Forest.
The Sharks, though, were plagued by penalties down the stretch and suffered a stunning 21-20 loss to the Wildcats.
NCT (2-6) was penalized 18 times for 184 yards, including two 15-yarders that kept things going, prior to a 47-yard reception by Tyree Gillespe.
Following the catch by Gillespe, Forest (3-5) took the lead for good with 45.9 seconds on an 8-yard scoring toss from Connor Feagle to Nicholas Danno.
NCT, though, didn't quit and advanced the ball to the Forest 33-yard line, but penalties pushed the Sharks back to their own 46.
From there, the Sharks' hopes ended when Ryan Quigley was picked off as time expired.
Following the game, the referees from the Mid-Florida Officials Association received a police escort from the Marion County Sherriff's Department, as fans on both sides sat back and wondered what they had just witnessed.
NCT, which had allowed just 76 total yards prior to Forest's game-winning drive, was left in disbelief after watching the hosts earn their third win of the season.
"I think anyone who watched this game can say there were some key penalties at some key times," NCT coach Charles Liggett said. "But at the end of the day, we are 2-6. Things aren't going our way and I am the head coach and I am the one responsible for this football team."
Liggett said he changed the coverage prior to the big play by Gillespe, which set up the go-ahead score.
"As the head coach, I am ultimately responsible for what happens with this football team," Liggett said. "I don't know what to say to those kids right now. They are a great group. They played their hearts out."
Forest trailed 17-2 after Brian Haygood scored on an 11-yard scoring toss from Quigley with 10:50 left in the third quarter.
Penalties, though, curbed the momentum for NCT, as it was flagged eight times for 83 yards in the third quarter, which led to it being flagged 14 times for 158 yards after halftime.
Leading 17-8, NCT's Rohan Blackwood had a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter called back due to a block in the back.
After being penalized into a second-and-40 situation, Quigley was picked off by Stanley Taylor, who ran back the interception 36 yards for a touchdown and pulled Forest to within 17-15.
The Wildcats, who sputtered on offense most of the night, couldn't get anything going on their next series and turned the ball over on downs at their own 45 with 6:15 left.
NCT then ran 11 plays and took 4:08 off the clock, before it settled for a 35-yard field goal from Austin Lacy with 2:07 remaining.
The Wildcats, though, took advantage of numerous mistakes and flags against the Sharks and came away with one of the biggest comeback wins in school history.
"Our kids never gave up and never stopped fighting," said Wildcats coach Skip Austin, whose team won its second straight game. "I am proud of each and every one of them. (Danno), a backup wide receiver, came in and made that play and got into the end zone.
"It's something that he will always remember and I will always remember it, as well."
Forest came away empty in the first quarter on two trips inside the NCT 15-yard line and had just 18 yards and one first down in the opening half, but trailed just 10-2 at halftime.
The Wildcats, however, did what they had to do in order to battle back.
"This is one of those games that you had to see to believe," Austin said. "I thought it all started with our defense. Our linebackers did a great job of getting downfield and I really thought the entire defense kept us in the game.
"Sometimes the ball bounces your way."
Ocala-Forest 21, Nature Coast 20
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
FOR 2 0 13 6 - 21
NCT 0 10 7 3 - 20
FOR - Safety (Hantzis tackled in the end zone)
NCT - Lacy 27 field goal
NCT - Smith 2 run (Lacy kick)
NCT - Haygood 11 pass from Quigley (Lacy kick)
FOR - King 7 pass from Feagle (Gilman kick blocked)
FOR - Taylor 36 interception return (Gilman kick)
NCT - Lacy 35 field goal
FOR - Danno 8 pass from Feagle (pass failed)
First Downs 12 8
Atts./Rushing Yds. 40-122 27-27
Comps./Pass/Atts/Int. 8-22-2 6-13-1
Passing Yards 138 99
Total Offense 62-260 40-126
Return Yards 3-11 3-38
Punts/Avg. 3-21.0 3-28.7
Fumble/Lost 4-1 1-1
Penalties 18-184 6-54