Pirates rally late, knock off Fernandina Beach

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The Matanzas Pirates football team mounted an epic fourth-quarter comeback Friday night and knocked off Fernandina Beach, 27-14, on homecoming night at Pirate Field.

The Pirates (3-3, 0-2) came into the game expecting a run-heavy offense of their counterpart — also the Pirates. While both teams struggled offensively for most of the game, it was the Matanzas defense that came through in crunch time.

Matanzas took the lead early in the first quarter after recovering a fumble on a pooch kick to begin the game. A few plays later, Pirates running back Shawn White scampered for 19-yard touchdown, staking Matanzas to a 6-0 lead.

Later in the first, on fourth down, Matanzas QB Al’Kwazi Spencer found Dorian Stanard to move the chains, but as Stanard made a move to cut up field, he fumbled the ball. Fernandina Beach returmed the fumble 78 yards for a touchdown a 7-6 lead.

Matanzas trailed through three quarters. But with the score at 14-12, and Fernandina Beach still in the lead, Matanzas got the ball back with three minutes remaning.

Despite missing three long passes in the second half, Spencer found Marquese Jones deep down the right side with less than two minutes to go. After getting inside the red zone, White bounced off a few would-be tacklers and scampered in for his third touchdown of the game. White finished with 20 carries for 176 yards and three TDs. Spencer finished the game 18-for-31 for 163 yards. 

With less than a minute to go, Fernandina Beach got into Matanzas territory. But on an attempted screen pass, Pirates defensive end Steven Mosley deflected the pass and then snatched it out of the air, taking it 51 yards to the end zone to seal with win.

Pirates comeback complete.

Matanzas coach Keith Lagocki praised players after the game. He said Friday night was a microcosm of his team’s resiliency all season.

“I love these kids,” Lagocki said as he hugged players as they walked by, including Spencer and Jones, who both were integral to the win.

The Pirates will travel to Creekside 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in an attempt to earn their first district win of the season.

The Pirates will likely need to win their next three games, all of which are district matchups, to earn a state playoff berth.




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