PORT CHARLOTTE – North Fort Myers High School running back Zaquandre White was chomping at the bit to get back to action following a five-game suspension.
And although the stats weren’t quite there, he certainly had a flair for the dramatic.
But even though White got the points in style, it was the head-rattling runs of Port Charlotte’s Brennan Norus that provided the difference. Norus rushed for 184 yards on 24 carries, including the game-winning score as the Pirates recovered after blowing a 17-point lead to hold off the Red Knights 33-27 in a District 6A-10 contest.
White scored his first touchdown on the final play of the first half to draw North to within 20-14, then caught another scoring pass from J’Ravien Andersen in the third to put North on top 21-20.
But after another North field goal, the Pirates continued to pound North between the guards and went on a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by Norus’ 15-yard game clincher late in the third quarter.
Port Charlotte (3-2, 2-0) made it a two-possession game when Ernest Harvey scored his second touchdown. After North’s Max Ferris kicked a field goal with 5:37 left in the game to cut the lead to six, the Pirates ran out the clock, converting on a fourth-and-1 by the nose of the football to clinch it.
“It was special. We started 17 underclassmen and a sophomore at quarterback and we played so hard. We’ve had some tough breaks this year, but we finally put it together,” Port Charlotte coach Jordan Ingman said.
North Fort Myers recovered an onside kick to start the game, but its opening drive was thwarted by a Ronald Edmond interception in the end zone.
Port Charlotte took advantage as Norus’ hard running set up sophomore quarterback Paul Barnes for his 2-yard touchdown plunge to make it 7-0.
After a Red Knights (2-4, 0-2) three-and-out, Port Charlotte got its passing game going. Barnes completed all three of his passes, including the final one, a 42-yard scoring strike to Ernest Harvey to make it 14-0.
North slowly gained the momentum after an Andres Fernandez 42-yard field goal made it 17-0 Pirates, as Austin Watkins ended an 11-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception from Andersen to make it 17-7.
After another Hernandez field goal with 1:12 left in the half, North drove quickly down the field before Andersen threw a jump ball in the corner that White came down with.
White gained 47 yards on 13 carries and caught four passes for 55 yards and two scores.
Andersen was 17 of 26 passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
“We made some big plays, got some big passes and got back in the game, but Port Charlotte is a great team, they went on their run and finished it out,” North coach Ernest Graham said.
PORT CHARLOTTE 33, NORTH FORT MYERS 27
North Fort Myers 0 |14| 10| 3 – 33
Port Charlotte 14| 6| 6| 7 – 27
PC – Paul Barnes 2 run (Andres Hernandez kick) 6:12.
PC – Ernest Harvey 42 pass from Paul Barnes (Hernandez kick) 2:05.
PC – Hernandez 41 field goal 8:36.
NFM – Austin Watkins 11 pass from J’Ravien Andersen (Max Ferris kick) 5:17.
PC – Hernandez 37 field goal 1:12.
NFM – Zaquandre White 2 pass from Andersen (Ferris kick) :00
NFM – White 44 pass from Andersen (Ferris kick) 7:31.
NFM – Ferris 22 field goal 3:13.
PC – Brennan Norus 15 run (kick fail) 1:04.
PC – Harvey 27 run (Hernandez kick) 11:12.
NFM – Ferris 30 field goal 5:37.