INVERNESS - The saving grace for Nature Coast Friday was that its preseason classic at Citrus didn't really count.
Except that one incident could reverberate well into the regular season.
The host Hurricanes dominated from start to finish, trouncing the visiting Sharks at the Citrus Bowl, 47-7.
But the bigger story for Nature Coast was the ejection of senior defensive end/wide receiver Rohan Blackwood in the third quarter.
Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett said that Blackwood was thrown out because of his "mouth" but later added that referees told him Blackwood threw, though did not land, a punch.
According to the FHSAA manual, an ejection means a suspension of at least one game, however it could be for as long as six weeks.
Blackwood, who has received 11 offers from Division I colleges to this point, posted 78 tackles and 14 sacks last season.
"Both sides of the ball, a huge loss," Liggett said. "He's very sought after by a lot of highly thought of teams. It's going to be a big loss. Let's hope it's not for long and we'll get him back and get him straight.
"I'd like to think that I've got pretty good discipline on my team, and that (Blackwood's ejection) disappoints me."
It was hard to believe the night could have gone worse for the Sharks (6-4 in 2012) considering how the first half went down.
Over the opening two quarters Nature Coast managed minus-1 yards of total offense and a pair of first downs. The Sharks also carried a 20-0 deficit into the intermission.
Citrus (7-4 in 2012) started things off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone by Deion Moore with 3:08 to go in the first quarter.
James Pouncey added a 39-yard touchdown run early in the second and Moore found a streaking Desmond Franklin down the right sideline for a 55-yard scoring strike.
At 8:11 in the third, Moore hit Tyric Washington from four yards out for the fourth touchdown, then Jesse Vineyard rumbled in from eight yards at the 6:16 mark of the quarter.
That play ended with Blackwood getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and tossed.
A 17-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Franklin pushed the lead to 41-0 at 1:45 in the third and invoked a running clock.
In the fourth, Pouncey scored on a 7-yard run, though a bad snap on the extra point left it 47-0. Pouncey rushed 12 times for 111 yards.
Sophomore DeShawn Smith broke the shutout on an impressive 75-yard run, breaking several tackles to reach the end zone with 1:31 left to play.
That final offensive play pushed the Sharks to 147 total yards. They finished with five first downs.
"I'll take the blame for how unprepared we are," Liggett said. "But right now we're not a very good football team. We're not executing well, and we've got some decent athletes, we're young, but we're going to have to go back to the drawing board and find out what we can do well and try to execute better."
Nature Coast will now try to regroup before opening up the regular season at Crystal River next Friday.
"What I'm hoping is I'll go back and say 'These are the issue that showed up, now it's up to you. We as coaches need to figure out what we can do to put you in the right position, and now you got to make plays,'" Liggett said.
Citrus 47, Nature Coast 7
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
NCT 0 0 0 7 - 7
CIT 7 13 21 6 - 47
CIT - Moore 1 run (Flaherty kick)
CIT - Pouncey 39 run (Marsden kick no good)
CIT - D. Franklin 55 pass from Moore (Flaherty kick)
CIT - Washington 4 pass from Moore (Flaherty kick)
CIT - Vineyard 8 run (Flaherty kick)
CIT - D. Franklin 17 pass from Moore (Flaherty kick)
CIT - Pouncey 7 run (Flaherty run failed)
NCT - Smith 75 run (Lacy kick)
First Downs 5 22
Atts./Rushing Yds. 23-145 40-251
Comps./Pass/Atts/Int. 5-11-0 9-12-0
Passing Yds. 2 148
Total Offense 34-147 52-399
Return Yds. 6-105 2-58
Punts/Avg. 5-37.6 1-22.0
Fumbles/Lost 4-3 3-0
Penalties 11-110 2-20