Offense ruled Friday night in the regular-season finale for Gulf Coast and Lely High at Trojan Stadium.
Despite 301 yards and three touchdowns from Lely senior quarterback Mike O’Regan, the Sharks pulled out a 45-38 victory in a see-saw thriller.
After a 27-yard field goal by Gulf Coast’s Leo Cruz tied the game at 38 with 5:35 to play, the Sharks engineered a six-play, 80-yard drive to score the winning touchdown with 52.5 seconds left in the game. Jeff Schmidt connected with Zac Rittberg on a 23-yarder to the right pylon for the score.
Lely drove to the Sharks’ 9-yard line in the waning seconds, but on the final play – after time already had expired – an O’Regan pass intended for Justo Vasquez was broken up by Tyler Weiss in the end zone, preserving the Sharks’ victory.
“That was a great drive,” winning coach Frank Tudryn said after his team for the first time ever had a seven-win regular season. “And it started with an incomplete pass on first down. I thought that was going to be the home run ball that took care of it for us.”
The 2007 regular season concluded, the Sharks now must focus on a trip to Miami-Washington for a Class 4A regional semifinal game next Friday night.
Washington hosts the game as the District 16 champion. Gulf Coast (7-3, 4-1 4A-15) earned its district runner-up spot in the recent three-way tiebreaker held at Barron Collier.
Lely, which did not qualify for a postseason berth, ended its first season under longtime assistant-turned-head coach Steve Pricer at 5-5.
“It was exciting, that’s for sure,” Pricer said. “Our kids played their guts out. They got after it right from the beginning and just played and played and played. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them.”
“You just kept hanging on,” Tudryn said. “They didn’t need any more ticks. I was just standing there thinking 45 points might not be enough.”
O’Regan completed 24 of 42 attempts. Lely’s Vasquez hauled in 13 catches for 214 yards.
Gulf Coast’s Schmidt ended up with 15 completions in 29 attempts for 251 yards. Anthony Pitingolo totaled 160 yards on 22 carries. Trojan Fortin Faustin was barely held to under 100 yards, finishing with 98 on 15 carries.
“They abandoned their running game the second half,” Tudryn said. “We’re better against the run. It’s just one of those things. When you have as many good athletes as Lely has to catch the ball, you just have to kind of pick your poison.”
Adam Frye picked off two passes for the Sharks.
Gulf Coast 14 7 14 10----45
Lely 10 7 14 7----38
L -- Eduardo Ayala 32 field goal 8:53
GC -- Anthony Pitingolo 11 run (Leo Cruz kick) 7:09
GC -- Anthony Pitingolo 5 run (Leo Cruz kick) 4:17
L -- Fortin Faustin 37 run (Eduardo Ayala kick):00
L -- Jeff Charelus 41 pass from Mike O’Regan (Eduardo Ayala kick)1:04
GC -- Zac Rittberg 11 pass from Jeff Schmidt (Leo Cruz kick) :16.2
GC -- Randy Clark 14 fumble return (Leo Cruz kick) 11:44
L -- Mike O’Regan 1 run (Eduardo kick) 5:06
GC -- Anthony Pitingolo 50 run (Leo Cruz kick) 4:18
L -- Gusto Vasquez 13 pass from Mike O’Regan (Eduardo Ayala kick) 2:05
L -- Matt Costello 10 pass from Mike O’Regan (Eduardo Ayala kick) 9:29
GC -- Leo Cruz 27 field goal 5:35
GC -- Zac Rittberg 23 pass from Mike Schmidt (Leo Cruz kick) 52.9