With a 20-17 victory at Ponte Vedra, the Bulldogs would clinch the district championship with a win over Nease on Oct. 14.
Flagler Palm Coast kicker Chase Magee did not start the game, but he finished it.
Magee kicked a 23-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Bulldogs a 20-17 victory at Ponte Vedra on Monday, Oct. 3.
FPC improved to 4-2 with the win, but what was most important was that the win came against a District 4-4S opponent. There are only three teams in the district, so the Bulldogs can now clinch the district championship and automatic playoff berth with a win at home against Nease on Oct. 14.
Magee also kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give FPC a 15-10 halftime lead in the back-and-forth contest.
“We’ve struggled kicking ball all year, FPC coach Robert Paxia said. “When it counted the most, he was able to come through.”
The Bulldogs scored on their first possession as quarterback D.J. Murray scored on an 11-yard run to cap off a 10-play, 50-yard drive. Magee did not get the call for the extra point and the kick failed.
After Marcus Mitchell scored on a 4-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 12-0 late in the first quarter, FPC failed on a 2-point conversion attempt.
“We really started fast. We talk about making sure we starting the game off with good effort, intensity and attitude, and our kids responded,” Paxia said.
But the Sharks (2-3) battled back, and quarterback Ben Burk’s 6-yard touchdown run on fourth down tied the score at 17-17 with 1:41 left in the game.
Murray methodically moved the Bulldogs up the field with his arm and his legs to set up Magee’s winning field goal. Murray ran for over 100 yards for the first time this season.
“He made some plays with his legs,” Paxia said. “He's been a little dinged up, so we haven't asked him to run a lot. I’m so proud of his effort this year and how he's managed to control the game.”
“We’ve struggled kicking ball all year. When it counted the most, he was able to come through.”
— ROBERT PAXIA on kicker Chase Magee
Mitchell also ran for more than 100 yards as the Bulldogs combined for over 300 yards rushing. They not only have talented and powerful running backs in Mitchell, Landin Simmons and Rodney Hill, they also have a solid offensive line leading the way.
“Those five guys have done a tremendous job playing and adapting. They're a fantastic group," Paxia said. "I’m really proud of those guys.”
Although Paxia was pleased with the Bulldogs’ start, they also left some points on the board with two turnovers inside Ponte Vedra’s 20 — a fumble and a turnover on downs — allowing the Sharks to get back in the game.
“We had some opportunities to score more. We just didn’t take advantage of them,” he said.
Like most teams that played on Monday night, FPC did not get much practice time because of Hurricane Ian. The Bulldogs did take advantage of the Florida High School Athletics Association allowing tams to practice on Sunday, Oct. 2.
The break gave FPC some much needed rest. If the game had been held on its originally scheduled date of Sept. 30, it would have been the Bulldogs’ third in a row with less than a week of recovery time. Their rescheduled game with Mainland on Sept. 19 was played just three days after playing Matanzas and four days before University.
Now, FPC has another short week with 5-1 Eau Gallie visiting the Bulldogs for their homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 7.
“We’re going to make the best of the situation,” Paxia said. “Our kids know better what to expect. I felt like we had a really good understanding of the task at hand (against Ponte Vedra) and how we were going to respond and handle the adversity.”