PORT CHARLOTTE - Sophomore quarterback Sage Atwood grew up before everyone's eyes Friday night.
Looking to emerge from his brother's shadow, the signal-caller did just that by leading his team to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the final one that he scored himself with 16 seconds left to hand his team a thrilling 28-21 win over Port Charlotte.
"My linemen blocked for me, my receivers got open. I hit the receivers and ran hard," Atwood said. "We got a big win."
Atwood was 13-for-28 for 157 yards and a touchdown, and looked right at home as the seconds dwindled.
It didn't hurt his team deflected a punt and recovered a fumble late in the fourth.
"We started making plays and got into playcalling that worked with what they were giving us," Bulldogs coach Brian Conn said. "It came down to offensive execution in the end because the defense was great. It scored for us for the third week in a row."
Still, Port Charlotte (2-1) looked as if it had the momentum early in the fourth after Ty Tyler caught a 30-yard touchdown from Traige McClary early in the fourth to make it 21-13 Pirates.
The Bulldogs went on a 15-play drive and though it stalled at the Pirates' 7, it set up a three-and-out and a deflection of Brion Ashley's punt to put the ball on the Port Charlotte 19.
Three plays later Bryan Tirado, who recovered a fumble earlier in the game for a score, caught Atwood's 17-yard TD pass. Jeremy Betts caught the two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 21-21 with 4:39 left.
Port Charlotte reached the 43-yard line before James Romulus was stripped of the ball by Lamar Dumas, who recovered to give the Bulldogs the ball at midfield. It was Port Charlotte's sixth fumble and third turnover of the game with 3:30 left.
Ida Baker (2-1), went on a 10-play drive, highlighted by a 24-yard screen to Betts. Atwood, a sophomore, ran the final nine yards to give Baker the lead.
Baker then recovered a squib kick to ice the game.
"Sage grew up for us out there. He had sputtered like the rest of the offense and we hoped we could punch it in the end zone like the defense and we did," Conn said.
Roy Denson caught seven passes for 52 yards for Baker. Betts had 11 carries for 46 yards and caught two passes for 36 more.
Baker's defense looked against the ropes in the third quarter after dominating in the first half by stifling the Port Charlotte option. The Pirates responded by passing, and got a 30-yard touchdown by Traige McClary to Teddy Spikes to give the Pirates a 14-13 lead midway through the third.
Romulus ran for 86 yards on 20 carries for Port Charlotte, which only managed 103 yards on the ground and committed four turnovers on seven fumbles.
Baker 0 13 0 15 - 28
Pt. Charlotte 0 7 7 7 - 21
IB - Jeremy Betts 15 run (run failed)
PC - Paulsin Heitter 54 pass from Traige McClary (Michael Bakogiannis kick)
IB - Bryan Tirado 40 fumble return (Trayvon Clarke kick)
PC - Teddy Spikes 30 pass from McClary (Bakogiannis kick)
PC - Ty Tyler 8 pass from McClary (Bakogiannis kick)
IB - Tirado 17 pass from Atwood (Betts pass)
IB - Atwood 3 run (Clarke kick)