SEMINOLE — The scoreboard showed a 16-16 tie, but Dunedin certainly had the look of a winner walking off Seminole High's field Friday night.
A 13-point flurry in the final four minutes has a way of lifting spirits like that.
“To come back like that being down 16-3 and take advantage of the opportunities they gave us; that's huge,” first-year Dunedin coach Matt LePain said of his shorthanded team's springtime moxie. Only 25 Falcons suited up Friday.
Starring in Dunedin's comeback performance was rising senior Jordan Williams. The running back/cornerback/return man hauled in a 24-yard pass from Tyler Palermiti with 4:08 left that cut Seminole's lead to 16-9, then returned a punt nearly 60 yards for another score to tie the game at 16-16. Williams, who racked up over 100 total yards of offense, capped his night with an interception on the game's final play.
“I was waiting for that switch to go on with him because he's a heck of a football player in practice,” LePain said of his Williams' potential. “He didn't have a lot of film last year so I wasn't sure exactly what he was capable of.”
Dunedin started off Friday night with a bang by executing an onside kick, but its four first-half possessions ended in a turnover on downs, interception and two punts.
The Warhawks built up a 10-0 lead during that time period. Receiver Matt Wonsick pulled down a 16-yard Aaron Dever pass that capped Seminole's long opening drive and the first quarter. The Warhawks then took advantage of a fumble on Dunedin's ensuing possession when Tanner Vaughn hit a 32-yard field goal to go up 10-0.
Dunedin finally got on the board midway through the third quarter after Adarius Sims recovered a fumble on defense. He then lined up under center on offense and threw a 32-yard pass to Williams on the first play to set up Dustin Rapp's 20-yard field goal.
Seminole responded with a quick five-play drive and Travis Wateska's 25-yard touchdown run to go up 16-3.
Watseka and teammate Chris Garza-Mclean combined for nearly 150 yards on the ground for Seminole.
For LePain and Dunedin, the former Palm Harbor University head coach said it was a good early sign to see his players stay in the game for a full 48 minutes.
“I can't believe the fight they showed,” he said. “All I cared about coming into the spring and this game was that my kids fought. I could care less what that scoreboard said. If we came out and fought and competed and got better, that's all I asked for.
“To end this way is even better.”
DHS - 0 – 0 – 3 – 13 --- 16
SHS - 7 – 3 – 6 – 0 --- 16