On a soggy field and under heavy rain, Spruce Creek quarterback Katie Herb tucked the football, turned the corner and sprinted down the right sideline, juking players along the way, to score the tying touchdown with 4:50 left.
Herb then ran in the extra point, and the Hawks held off Mainland 7-6 in the Five Star Conference flag football championship game on March 31 at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
Mainland got the ball back twice in the final minutes but couldn't answer.
Spruce Creek improved to 6-0, while the Bucs (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season.
“It was a great game,” Mainland coach Ethan Simpson said. “The defense was playing good. We knew going in, (Herb) is one of the most athletic players we’re going to see. They put the ball in her hands, and she took off. We were playing back a little bit, and she got outside of our defense and punched it in. We missed a few flags.”
The rain began in the second quarter and increased steadily in the second half, making passing the ball, which is the Bucs’ staple, more difficult.
“It’s always a good game between us and Creek. It’s always close. We’re excited to play them again in a couple of weeks.”
ETHAN SIMPSON, Mainland flag football coach
“As the weather started to change, it changed our game plan,” Simpson. “For Creek, they were running the ball well.”
The Bucs took a 6-0 lead on the game’s opening drive as quarterback Alexa Wilson threw a 6-yard slant to Kassie Stoner for the touchdown. Wilson’s extra-point pass fell incomplete. And that turned out to be the difference in the game.
“It was a very tight game,” Simpson said. “It always is with them. It’s always tough playing them. That weather made it tough.”
Spruce Creek was the only team to beat Mainland in the regular season last year, 30-20, in a game that showed no resemblance to the defensive battle for the conference title.
The teams will meet again in the regular-season finale on April 18 at Mainland.
“It’s always a good game between us and Creek,” Simpson said. “It’s always close. We’re excited to play them again in a couple of weeks.”