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Author: Emileigh Grice

Patriots fall short in back-and-forth battle with Dolphins

“It was a tough game, but we have an amazing football team that plans to get back on track for next week’s game,” Smith said.

The game was a true battle until the end as neither team led by more than a touchdown, keeping fans on edge of their seats until the final minute of the game.

Pace (3-2) scored first on a pass from Nick Simmons to Jayson Alford early in the first quarter before Gulf Breeze responded to tie the score at 7-7 near the midway mark of the opening quarter on a 70-yard pass. The Dolphins (4-2) added another score to move in front 14-7, but Ben Tyner found the end zone on a 34-yard run near the end of the first quarter to knot the score at 14-14.

Each team scored in the second quarter.

Pace pulled in front when Xakery Wiedner plowed in from 8-yards out, but as was the case throughout the game, the trailing team came right back with a score of its own. The Dolphins took the kickoff and marched down the field to tie the score at 21-21 with just 1:11 left in the half.

The theme of the first half carried over into the second half as the two county rivals continued to swap scores. Pace moved in front on a 43-yard pass from Simmons to Junior Mills, but on the very next possession the Dolphins tied it right back up at 28 as Gulf Breeze’s Troy Coughlin slipped a couple of tackles on a 45-yard run.

The game was in the balance in the fourth quarter until Gulf Breeze broke the stalemate on a 45 yard touchdown pass from Battle Alberson to Bryson Rouillier with just 32 seconds remaining in the game. Gulf Breeze iced the game by recovering a fumble on the kickoff.

The Patriots return to action this Friday at 7:30 when they play the Pensacola Tigers for their Homecoming game.

Patriots stay unbeaten with win over Jaguars

With the score tied at 7-7 late in the first half, Brayden Gates blocked a punt to give the Patriots the ball at the Jaguars’ 9-yard line with just 50 seconds remaining in the half. Simmons connected with Xakery Wiedner for a touchdown with 14 seconds left to give Pace a 14-7 lead. 

However, it was after the rain/ lightning delay that the Patriots truly showed out. 

Pace made sure to make the most of the time during the lightning warning. The players went back to the locker room not knowing what to expect from the rest of the night, but it was imperative that they kept their heads in the game.

“We found them some snacks, Gatorade, had them watch film, and tried to keep them focused,” Pace head coach Kent Smith said. ”They are a good group of kids, and they work hard, but every week is a new challenge for us.”  

Meanwhile, fans were sent to their cars and crowds dissipated, with only some returning for the restart at 10:40 p.m. to watch the second half of the game.

“The West Florida coach and I were headed to see if the officials would come back out in the morning when we found out that we could come back out at 10:40 so we thought we would give it one more try,” Smith said.

An interception by Jackson Ward set up the first score of the second half before capping a short drive that started deep in West Florida territory with a touchdown run by Simmons.

Reice Griffith added the PAT to put Pace in front 21-7 with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter. He has not missed a PAT season. 

Not even three minutes later, Simmons was back in the end zone, this time on a 3-yard run to push the lead to 28-7.  

West Florida could get nothing going against the Patriots’ defense in the third quarter, and with just 1:36 remaining in the stanza, the Patriots’ offense found themselves in the end zone for a third time. This time it was on a 14-yard pass from Simmons to Nash Pires for a 35-7 lead. 

West Florida did score near the end of the final quarter, but Pace immediately drove down the field to answer the score with one of their own as Ben Tyner went in from 2-yards out to close out the scoring.

Simmons led Pace in passing with 73 yards and two touchdowns while Pires racked up 41 yards and a touchdown. Wiedner had two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. 

Simmons led all rushers with 25 carries for 122 yards and three touchdowns to finish with five total touchdowns. Tyner added 42 yards and one touchdown. 

Up next, the Patriots leave their home territory to go up against the Crestview Bulldogs on Friday night.

Patriots run past St. Martin

After some adjustments, the Patriot defense began to stiffen.

Late in the first quarter, and with St. Martin moving into Pace territory, Xakery Wiedner made a big tackle for a loss on second down, then Tylon Lee made back-to-back plays. 

 “I think they just saw the speed of the game is the biggest thing,” Pace head coach Kent Smith said. “The other team had some really good players, and it was a lot faster than it was during practice. The (defensive) coach got them adjusted and sent them out to have a good rest of the first half.”

On third down Lee flushed the quarterback from the pocket for a short gain. On fourth down, he got a sack to give Pace great field possession near midfield.

From there the offensive line of Grant Wise, Isaac Bondurant, Ashton Harralson, Nick Stiles and Allen Bellew helped open some holes as quarterback Nick Simmons and running back Ben Tyner powered the Patriots down the field on the ground.

Simmons capped the drive with a seven-yard run to tie the score at 6-6 with 9:14 left in the half. Reice Griffith added the point after to put Pace in front 7-6.

“The offensive line did a great job blocking and that really is the key to Pace Football,” Smith said.

Defense once again set the Patriots up on a short field to set up their second score of the quarter after a host of Pace defenders stuffed another fourth down attempt by St. Martin.

Simmons connected with Nash Pires for 22 yards to start the drive with a big first down, and the Patriots then went back to the ground track.

Tyner, who finished the night with 149 yards on 21 carries, had two big runs to set the Patriots up with first and goal at the three. Simmons then finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Griffith once again added the point after for a 14-6 advantage.

The Pace defense gave the Patriots another chance for points late in the half, and Griffith connected on a 33-yard field goal for a 24-6 halftime lead.

St. Martin tried to climb back into the game by going 90 yards on the first possession of the second half, to pull to within 24-12, but the Pace offense once again responded with a scoring drive. 

Tyner powered in from 11 yards out to push the score to 31-12. The two teams exchanged scores late in the third, with Simmons adding his fourth touchdown of the night with less than a minute remaining in the quarter. He finished with 125 rushing yards to go with his four touchdowns.

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