For the second time in less than a week, the St. James Sharks ventured to Florence to take on a region opponent and for the second time the Sharks came out on the losing end, falling to the West Florence Knights 42-14.
Both teams came into Thursday night’s game at 3-3 and 0-1 in region play. But it didn’t take the Knights long to take control of the contest.
Using their team speed and pinpoint passing, the Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Less than a minute into the second quarter, they upped the lead to 14-0. Then, capitalizing on a couple of Sharks’ miscues, West Florence was sitting on a comfortable 28-0 lead with just 39 seconds left in the half.
The Sharks showed a “no quit” attitude and took the ball 55 yards for a touchdown in two plays in just a little over 30 seconds, making the score 28-7 with just over six seconds on the clock.
But the newfound momentum was short-lived as the Knights took the ensuing kickoff for 70 yards and a touchdown as the half expired, going into the locker room with a 35-7 lead.
St. James came out in the third quarter using a mix of runs and passes to mount a 76-yard scoring drive, making the score 35-14. That was all the Sharks would muster on the scoreboard, but their defense buckled down and held the Knights to just one TD in the second half.
St. James head coach Tommy Norwood praised the Knights following the game, saying his guys just couldn’t contain their speed.
Norwood said despite the loss, he was proud of his team’s effort and attitude throughout the game.
“We made some mistakes, but we didn’t give up,” Norwood said. “I could see a big difference in tonight’s attitude compared to last week against South Florence. It’s hard to beat a good team like West Florence when you have too many turnovers and missed tackles. But we can work on that.”
Norwood said it seemed like the Sharks were about to get back into the game until they gave up the kickoff return touchdown just before halftime.
Next week, the Sharks host Carolina Forest, a team that Norwood says will be a tough challenge.
“On paper, they’re the best team in the region,” he said. “And [Mason] Garcia their quarterback is the best in the league. But we can take some positives from tonight and build on them and hopefully we can have a good game next week.”