For once, Flagler Palm Coast football coach Robert Paxia had hoped the official wasn’t watching the play.
A Bulldog’s tackle on third-and-11 with 2:05 left was a clear facemask penalty.
“It was a good call,” Paxia said. “You hate to say that. But it was the right call. I saw it. I was hoping he wasn’t going to throw the flag. It was a big play. And was he going to keep the flag in his pocket? For a second, I thought he would.”
But it was that kind of night for the Bulldogs, who lost their second game in five days as University defeated FPC 21-19 on Friday, Sept. 23 at Sal Campanella Stadium.
The penalty closed the deal for the Titans, who improved to 3-2, while the Bulldogs fell to 3-2. A load of penalties, three turnovers and a missed extra-point kick doomed a tired FPC team that was playing its third game in eight days because of a game with Mainland that was rescheduled for Monday, Sept. 19.
“There was a lot of laundry on the field. Jumping off-sides, face masks, all of that.”
— RODNEY HILL, FPC linebacker/running back
“There was a lot of laundry on the field,” said linebacker/running back Rodney Hill. “Jumping off-sides, face masks, all of that.”
Paxia described his team’s performance as a “calamity of errors.”
“You can’t drop (a pass), you can’t fumble the ball. You can’t not block the right people. You can’t run the wrong routes at times. It just seemed like tonight, if it wasn’t one of those things it was the other,” Paxia said.
The Bulldogs appeared to take control early with D.Z. Steward’s 56-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-and-10.
“Based on the leverage of the corner, we thought we could run a slant. (Steward) caught it. He’s fast,” Paxia said.
But, in what would turn out to be the difference in the game, the Bulldogs missed the extra point.
After University went up 7-6, D.J. Murray threw his second touchdown pass of the first quarter, a 28-yarder to Gavin Winkler.
“That was something we saw on the previous drive. He was wide open, That was nice,” Paxia said.
University’s Malachi Walters fired two first-half touchdown passes to Michai Green to put the Titans ahead 14-13. They went up 21-13 on a Bulldogs fumble early in the third quarter.
“This was our third game in a week. We're just beat up.”
— ROBERT PAXIA, FPC coach
Hill’s 5-yard touchdown run made it 21-19, but FPC missed the 2-point conversion trying to tie the score.
University recovered another FPC fumble deep in Titans’ territory in the fourth quarter. And a final opportunity for the Bulldogs never came after the facemask penalty allowed University to run out the clock.
“We’re all a team,” said Hill. “We can’t blame it on anybody. We just have to step it up a notch as a whole group.”
What the Bulldogs needed, said Paxia, was a chance to rest.
“We kept playing hard. I don’t think our team ever believed that we were going to lose,” Paxia said. “This was our third game in a week. We're just beat up. Monday, we had this knock-down, drag-out (losing 22-16 to Mainland). Tuesday, we’re exhausted. Wednesday we were feeling a little better. Thursday, we had to practice more than we normally would. We’re going to have to recover our bodies. There has been a lot of crashes, a lot of hits.”