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Skinner rescues Boca Ciega

The quarterback's improvised play beats Tarpon in overtime.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published October 9, 2004

GULFPORT - They missed the exchange.

Suddenly quarterback Terrell Skinner found himself in overtime, running a broken play, caught in his own backfield, with Pinellas County's toughest defense standing between him and the end zone.

And what else does No. 1 do with the ball in his hands, the game on the line?

Win it.

Skinner sprinted left 9 yards on an improvised bootleg, confounding Tarpon Springs' defense one last time to give Boca Ciega a thrilling 19-13 overtime win at Charles Beauchamp Memorial Stadium.

Oh, and last week, Skinner returned a punt 46 yards as time expired to beat Gibbs.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride for the past two weeks," Skinner said, "and I don't want to make it a habit of doing this every week."

Winning games isn't a bad habit. Almost losing them is. Before Skinner beat Gibbs, he failed to pitch it on fourth down. He did it again Friday, when a punt bounced off Skinner's leg and the Spongers nabbed it at the opposing 14, the score 13-13.

Only Tarpon Springs (3-2) gave it right back. Justin Ross, on one of his few touches of the game, fumbled on third down and Mike Lindsey recovered it for Boca Ciega (4-1) at the 6 with 3:22 left.

"It just makes me sick," Tarpon Springs coach Don Davis said. "You get down with a chance to win the game with three minutes left and you put the ball on the ground.'

But it wasn't the only blown shot at the win for the county's No. 1 scoring defense.

Tarpon Springs was pitching a shutout until Skinner exploited a slight crack in that stout defense, turning a busted play into a 37-yard scramble on second-and-forever. That set up his 16-yard touchdown pass to Clifford Smith with 23 seconds left in the half to take a 7-0 lead.

The Pirates opened the third by driving 89 yards in eight plays, scoring on Myron Dillard's 2-yard sweep left - but the extra point was no good, and it was 13-0.

The Spongers' Marcus Thompson scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 with 4:48 left in the third. Tarpon Springs then tackled Boca Ciega's punter at the 9, setting up Matt Selby's touchdown pass to a diving Mike Koulianos to tie it - only the Spongers botched the extra point.

Oh, and Tarpon Springs would also reach the 10, fumble the snap, kick a 29-yard field goal short and in overtime throw an interception to Lequerio Nesbitt.

"The line and the defense, they could have just said forget him, he messed up again," Skinner said. "But they didn't.

"They had my back."

[Last modified October 9, 2004, 01:04:14]


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