Quarterback Karl Johnson said he and his Buccaneers’ teammates won’t let Friday’s heartbreaking 42-35 loss to Mona Shores define the remainder of their season.
“It’s hard, but we’ve just got to think about the fact that we have five games left,” said Johnson, who connected on a pair of long touchdown passes to help the Bucs keep things close. “We can throw in the towel and give up, or we can get over it, act like men, and play the game of football.”
There was plenty of football played on both sides Friday night.
The Buccaneers’ offense, which had managed just 24 points combined in its opening three games, exploded for 38 points against the Sailors thanks to some big plays in the passing game and a huge special teams play by Chase Pego.
With 7:25 remaining in the game, Johnson patiently waited for receiver Jacob Kostner to come open, then slung out a pass to the junior receiver. Kostner broke free from a would-be tackler and raced down the right sideline, narrowly avoiding another tackle at the Sailors’ 15 before sprinting into the end zone for an 85-yard score. The Bucs, who had missed a point-after try earlier in the game, drew to within seven points when Johnson then hit Aaron Cummings for the two-point conversion.
The Sailors, with their quick-strike offense, answered back. First, Marquon Sargent brought the ensuing kickoff back 40-plus yards to near midfield. Facing a third-and-12 situation moments later, quarterback Tyree Jackson hit big-play receiver Asantay Brown on a quick pass, and Brown did the rest, escaping a tackle and racing ahead for a first down. Three plays later, Jackson kept the ball from 9 yards out for a touchdown, extending his team’s advantage to 42-28.
The Bucs wouldn’t go away quietly.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pego grabbed the ball at the 10 and headed toward the right sideline. He made a few nice moves to reach midfield, before being bottled up on the sideline. The speedy junior back then reversed his field, received a few big blocks, and streaked all the way to the left side of the field as he lunged across the goal line, dragging a defender in for a touchdown.
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