BROOKSVILLE - Nature Coast couldn't prevent South Sumter from continuing its present district dominance, but at least received a glimpse of a bright future.
Sophomore DeShawn Smith rushed nine times for 107 yards, with a pair of impressive 46-yard touchdown runs, as the host Sharks fell to the Red Raiders Friday night, 51-20.
As a result of the victory, ninth-ranked South Sumter won the Class 5A, District 6 crown, improving to 5-0 within the district and 8-0 overall.
"We've worked extremely hard for this," South Sumter head coach Inman Sherman said. "Our staff is so proud of this team. They've really worked together. This was a tough three-week stretch. We went Pasco, we went Hernando, we went Nature Coast. Big, strong football teams, all three of them.
"We never thought we could at the beginning of the year win all three of them. We hoped we'd win two out of three. And to get all three of them I think says a lot about how tough these kids are and how hard they've worked this summer and this fall."
The Raiders led 14-0 on first-quarter touchdown runs by J.T. Taylor (11 yards) and Anderson Faulk (6 yards) before Nature Coast (2-5 overall, 2-3 5A-6) broke through.
Two plays into the second quarter, Smith escaped the grasp of defenders up the middle and outran everyone once he got into the open field.
After a failed onside kick attempt, South Sumter responded in less than two minutes, with P.J. Brown scoring from a yard out.
The Sharks needed just two plays from scrimmage to answer, on a 40-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Quigley off a fake handoff.
That was the third score within the first three furious minutes of the second. Nature Coast, having had two PATs blocked, trailed 21-12 with 9:08 to go in the half.
But the Sharks would get no closer. Faulk added a 4-yard touchdown with 2:47 before intermission to make it 28-12.
Taylor caught a 25-yard scoring strike from Levi Sapp and the Raiders tacked on a safety in the third quarter, prior to Smith's second touchdown with 9:13 remaining in the game.
It mirrored his first trip to the end zone, as he again eluded the defensive front and outraced the Raiders down the right sideline. Quigley ran in the two-point conversion.
"One reason we kept trying to score, cause we didn't know if we were going to tackle number four (Smith). Seemed like his tank never went empty," Sherman said. "Great speed, great balance. I don't know that we faced anybody better except maybe the kid from Zephyrhills. Real competitive kid, very competitive."
Smith only had nine carries, but made the most of them totaling 107 yards.
"He's a good ballplayer," Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett said. "If he gets a chance he can make things happen. Anytime he has a pretty good night running we can move the ball."
Faulk had a terrific night on the ground himself, tacking on a third touchdown from 15 yards in the fourth. He tallied 157 yards on 19 rushes.
South Sumter amassed 418 yards of total offense, 344 of it rushing, as the Sharks turned in an uncharacteristically poor defense performance.
Liggett, the former defensive coordinator, took the blame for that unit's shortcomings on the night.
"It was just sort of role reversal," Liggett said. "Offense is getting down there and scoring and putting points on the board and doing what they've got to do, and defensively if we could have given them some stops and given them a chance to get some momentum going, there were times we where could have got back in it and we just didn't do it."
South Sumter 51, Nature Coast 20
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
SS 14 14 9 14 - 51
NCT 0 12 0 8 - 20
SS - Taylor 11 run (Moir kick)
SS - Faulk 6 run (Moir kick)
NCT - Smith 46 run (Lacy kick blocked)
SS - Brown 1 run (Moir kick)
NCT - Quigley 40 run (Lacy kick blocked)
SS - Faulk 4 run (Moir kick)
SS - Taylor 25 pass from Sapp (Moir kick)
SS - Safety
NCT - Smith 46 run (Quigley run)
SS - Faulk 15 run (Moir kick)
SS - Flowers 31 run (Moir kick)
First Downs 19 11
Atts./Rushing Yds. 51-344 45-181
Comps./Pass/Atts/Int. 5-12-0 10-15-1
Passing Yds. 74 55
Total Offense 63-418 60-236
Return Yds. 3-34 10-152
Punts/Avg. 3-34.0 3-42.7
Fumbles/Lost 1-1 6-2
Penalties 17-160 8-58