When Island Coast and Ida Baker meet on the football field, you can expect a tight game. The city rival schools scrapped and clawed at each other Friday night at Gators Stadium with host Island Coast coming out on top 23-20.
It was a game where the defenses made gaining yardage difficult. Both teams caused turnovers, and both capitalized on them.
The usually potent Gators were shut out for the first 25 minutes. Baker stopped Island Coast drives twice inside the red zone. Then the Bulldogs used 13 plays to go 75 yards for the first score of the game with 6:34 left in the second quarter on a 24-yard scoring pass from Sage Attwood to Roy Denson.
Island Coast senior runningback T.J. Johnson slips between defenders in the Gators’ 23-20 win over the Ida Baker Bulldogs Friday night.
Island Coast responded with an eight-play drive capped by Kurt Benkert's TD pass to T.J. Johnson, tying the game.
Baker's Tyler Iverson received the ensuing kickoff, but had the ball wrestled away from him. The Gators recovered on the Bulldogs' 33. It took just just five plays for the Gators to take the lead on another Benkert TD pass to James Washington.
Instead of trailing, the Gators went into halftime leading 13-7.
The second half started with a flurry of turnovers. On the first play from scrimmage the Bulldogs' Alex Febles fumbled the ball away to the Gators.
Island Coast returned the favor five plays later. Benkert slung a pass out on the right flat to a receiver, but the ball bounced off his hands and right into the hands of Baker's T.J. Hollman who returned the interception 58 yards for a touchdown.
Baker regained the lead 14-13 with the extra point, and held it through the end of the third quarter, preserving it by blocking a 28-yard field goal attempt by the Gators.
Again in the fourth quarter Island Coast drove deep into Bulldogs territory, only to be stopped on third-and-goal at the Bulldog 3. The Gators elected to kick again, and this time Kevin Vigne made the 20-yard field goal with 6:22 left.
When Baker got the ball back, Attwood threw his third interception, and the Gators went into ball control mode. They ran the ball with Devon Calhoun carrying it seven consecutive times, the final run being 12 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Calhoun was the workhorse for the Gators, rushing 29 times for 141 yards and the one touchdown.
Baker needed two scores to win. They returned the kickoff to midfield. On trick plays, good passing, and an eight-yard run, the Bulldogs scored with 18.1 seconds left.
An onside kick came next, but the kick went out of bounds, and the game was lost.
"This was our first tight game," said Gators coach Joe Bowen, "so it was good to see our defense step up. We saw that they can keep us in games."
"I was disappointed in the loss," said Bulldogs coach Brian Conn. "Our defense played well enough for us to win, but we committed too many penalties and had too many turnovers."
Baker (3-2) plays at Bishop Verot next Friday while Island Coast (4-1) travels to Fort Myers.
Ida Baker 0 7 7 6 - 20
Island Coast 0 13 0 13 - 23
IB - Roy Denson 24 pass from Sage Attwood (Trayvon Clarke kick)
IC - T.J. Johnson 29 pass from Kurt Benkert (Kevin Vigne kick)
IC - James Washington 19 pass from Benkert (kick failed)
IB - T.J. Hollman 58 interception return (Clarke kick)
IC - FG, Vigne 20
IC - Devon Calhoun 12 run (Vigne kick)
IB - Attwood 8 run (kick failed)