CHIPLEY — In the battle of fearsome mascots, the Tigers came out on top of the Sharks 28-16 at Philip Rountree Stadium in Chipley.
It wasn’t the Tigers’ claws or fangs, but its defensive line, that was the difference when Chipley (2-1) faced Port St. Joe — beginning with a first-drive turnover inside the Tigers’ 10-yard mark that brought the Sharks’ first drive to a screeching halt.
Port St. Joe’s Dewayne Griggs, Jasmin Thomas and Aaron Paul combined to roll up 45 yards, capitalizing on a 30-yard opening kick-off return by Griggs for a total 75 yards offense, only to come to a standstill after a fumbled carry lands at the Tigers’ feet.
A holding penalty brought back a 60-yard Kobe McCrary run on Chipley’s first drive, and neither team was able to get much past the halfway mark for the rest of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with Port St. Joe’s Thomas scrambling with a fake punt on fourth and five down to inside the Chipley 12, where the Tigers’ defense was able to dig in and finally stop the Sharks at the 5-yard.
Port St. Joe’s Drew Lacour was good for a 15-yard field goal, though, and the Sharks were on the board 3-0.
On Chipley’s next possession, however, Darren Stewart was good for a 67-yard sprint on second and long, putting the Tigers on the Sharks’ 5-yard line. McCrary went up the middle for the touchdown, giving Chipley a 6-3 lead with 8:59 left to play in the half.
Port St. Joe rolled up a total of two yards on their next three possessions and punted the ball back to Chipley 1:40 after Chipley’s first touchdown. The Tigers took possession at their own 47 and within six plays they were sitting back on the Sharks’ doorstep. McCrary moved the ball from the 20 to just inside the 12-yard line, then Zack Campbell took it over the top to score. McCrary added the PAT from a fake field goal set-up to put the Tigers in the lead 14-3 with 4:23 left in the half.
The Sharks came back undeterred and drove 66 yards in 8 plays, and Griggs found the end zone on a sweep from four yards out. Lacour’s point after try was blocked, but the Sharks were closing the gap with a 14-9 score going into the half.
The Tigers nearly scored again, with quarterback Jordan Finch connecting with Carlon Smith for 10 yards, then McCrary scrambling 42 yards to put Chipley on the Port St. Joe 2-yard line with just seconds to play. The Sharks defense was able to stop McCrary on his next try, and the half was over.
Port St. Joe came out on their first possession of the 2nd half with a 9-play, 50-yard effort that was capped with Paul scoring up the middle from five yards out. Lacour’s kick was good and the Sharks had the lead for the second time that evening at 16-14.
Twenty-five seconds later, Chipley’s Stewart ran 70-yards to put the Tigers back on top, and that is where they remained. McCrary added the PAT to change the board to 22-16.
Chipley’s final touchdown came with 4:18 to play. McCrary was met at the 50-yard line by a host of Sharks, but they were unable to handle him and he broke free and ran into the end zone.
Chipley travels to South Walton next Friday.