On a soggy field Friday night, the Island Coast Gators looked to rebound after a tough district loss at home a week earlier to South Fort Myers.
Unfortunately, the Gators could not find solid footing against the Riverdale Raiders, falling 14-6 at Riverdale.
"We thought we could come out here and run the ball and do some things," said Gators coach Joe Bowen. "We just got outplayed by Riverdale."
The Gators, who trailed since midway through the first quarter, finally caught a break when the Raiders muffed a punt at their own 10-yard line on the last play of the third quarter. It only took one play for Gators runningback Mario Pender to capitalize on the mishap, taking the handoff and following a huge block by receiver Jordan Diggs to escort him into the end zone.
The wet conditions that appeared to affect the Riverdale punt return struck Island Coast on the extra point, recovered by Riverdale.
The burden then fell upon the Gators defense to hold firm trailing by one point, but the gritty rushing of Raiders running back Levi Sourinha helped hold off the Gators. After the Raiders moved the ball across midfield, it was Sourinha who brought a roar to the few in the crowd that braved the weather. Sourinha took a sweep handoff right, hurdled a defender and then the 5-foot-4 dynamo bolted 37 yards past defenders and into the end zone, putting the Raiders up 14-6.
Island Coast was left with seven minutes to draw even and it appeared they would. After a failed onside kick by Riverdale, Island Coast took over at their 40-yard line. The Gators used five different ball carriers to march all the way to the Riverdale 13.
An encroachment penalty gave Island Coast a first-and-10 with just under four minutes left, but as the ball was handed off to Pender it slipped out and into the hands of a Riverdale defender.
The Gators defense was then given one last chance to pin the Raiders deep and give their offense a shot on a short field. After no gain on first down, and a fumbled pitch on second down, the Raiders were facing a third-and-17. It appeared the defense had done its job, but Sourinha again came to the rescue, taking the handoff and racing 41 yards to midfield where he was pushed out of bounds by Diggs.
After three straight quarterback keepers, the Gators finally forced a punt, giving their offense the ball with just under a minute left and no time outs. The Gators attempted to get the ball to Pender, but the Raiders defense keyed on him and the game ended on an incomplete swing pass to Pender.
"We just have to keep fighting," said Bowen. "Our season is not over and we have to play like it."
Island Coast 0 0 0 6 - 6
Riverdale 7 0 0 14 - 14
R - Gabe McNulty 46 pass from Anthony Snyder (Dillon Traurig kick)
IC - Mario Pender 12 run (kick failed)
R - Levi Sourinha 37 run (Traurig kick)