VENICE — With about eight minutes to go Friday night, Venice High School looked like it was on its way to a comfortable win over Palmetto.
But the Tigers had other ideas, scoring three touchdowns in the final five minutes to nearly erase a 24-point lead. The Indians got a sack on a two-point conversion with a minute left and escaped with a 46-44 win.
Venice turned the game into a track meet early, grabbing a 14-point lead in the first quarter before Palmetto’s potent offensive attack could get going.
The Tigers got on the board late in the first quarter when University of Miami commit Jack Allison hit Dearius Washington in stride at the Venice 30 and he easily ran away from a Venice defender for a 56-yard score. Allison connected on another touchdown pass with Simon Williams to cut the deficit to 21-14 at the half.
Venice’s Langston Provitt scored his second and third touchdowns of the game on runs of 31 and 8 yards, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters. Those runs, along with a 65-yard quarterback keeper by Indians freshman Bryce Carpenter put Venice up 46-22 with 7:57 to play.
Carpenter and Provitt — playing quarterback in a wildcat formation — were having trouble with the exchange in the wet conditions. Palmetto’s Daniel Barrera jumped on a fumbled snap at the Palmetto 48 and raced 52 yards for a touchdown to bring the Tigers back into contention.
Palmetto took over at their own 20 after a Venice punt. It looked as if the Indians, who picked Allison off four times during the game, had tailback Quincy Washington stopped on a swing pass on a fourth and long. Washington broke several tackles and zig-zagged his way through the defense for a 74-yard touchdown reception that put the Tigers within a score after the two point conversion.
An unsportsmanlike conduct call on Venice allowed the Tigers to attempt the onside kick in Venice territory. Palmetto emerged from the scrum with the ball and Allison found Quincy Washington on another swing pass to pull Palmetto within two points with a minute to go.
The Tigers needed the two-point play to send the game into overtime. Allison took the snap and went back in the pocket. Venice linebacker Jake Stubbs had a bead on Allison and sacked him 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The Tigers had one last hope, but Kevin Vasquez’s onside kick attempt sailed out of bounds.