Matanzas failed to score a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.
With a little over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Matanzas running back Sean Leuabu shed a Bulldogs’ tackler. Then another. And another. And eventually, Leuabu, with defenders in tow, made the difficult 35-yard trek into the end zone.
His teammates congratulated him, and the Pirates fans in attendance let out a long pent-up cheer.
It was Matanzas’ first and only touchdown of the game.
“We struggled tonight,” first-year MHS junior varsity coach Don Lockhart said. “We had missed assignments. We had a couple of nice plays. We’re going to bounce back.”
In the first JV game of the season, Flagler Palm Coast handled the Pirates 29-6 on the night of Thursday, Aug. 24, at Matanzas High School.
The Bulldogs scored 29 unanswered points, including 23 points in the first half.
FPC got on the board with 3:24 to play in the first quarter when running back Malakai Grant was able to drag a defender into the end zone to cap off a 20-yard run.
“It was a great feeling to score my first touchdown in high school,” Grant said. “I just want to keep scoring some more.”
Bulldogs wide receiver Bryan Jones, who also played safety at times throughout the game, had a stand out performance. Jones recorded two touchdown catches, including a 35-yard bomb barely 10 seconds into the fourth quarter. His first touchdown was a wide open, seven-yard flick from starting quarterback A.J. Smith.
“[Jones] makes plays like that in practice all the time, so I wasn’t surprised,” FPC coach Jim Gambone said of the long touchdown catch. “He goes up and gets balls, and he runs good routes.”
Overall, the Bulldogs controlled both sides of the ball.
Matanzas' defense couldn't contain both FPC’s rushing and passing attacks, and on the offensive side, the Pirates struggled to move the ball effectively, failing to get a first down until late in the second half.
Gambone, now in his sixth year with the team, was happy to start the season with a win against a familiar opponent.
“It means more than another game,” he said. “They’re our cross-town rivals. I know some of the kids that go there, and I know some of the coaches on their staff. It just feels good to beat them.”