PUNTA GORDA There wasn’t much that made sense Friday in Fort Myers High’s 42-0 loss to Charlotte in the team’s non-district football game at Tarpons Stadium.
Where was the Green Wave program that took down a state-ranked South Fort Myers squad from the previous week?
That team was nowhere to be found on this night, not even for one series.
Class 6A ranked Charlotte (5-0), which lost to Fort Myers twice last season, drowned the Green Wave in defensive stop after defensive stop, forcing two interceptions, one crucial turnover on downs and three giveaways in the second half as it claimed the 63rd meeting of the two programs, winning its eighth game in the last 11 outings.
Fort Myers (3-2) punted on its first five possessions, going into halftime trailing 21-0. Friday marked the first time the Green Wave was shut out since 2011 against Naples in the Class 6A region semifinals.
“I’m sure they stewed over this for a lot of much,” Fort Myers head coach Sam Sirianni said of his team’s two wins in 2014. “They had two hard losses (against us). Again, I give them all the credit. I didn’t recognize that team I saw out there. But that’s on me. For whatever reason, we didn’t come back off the cloud from Friday.”
Charlotte, which continued in a trend of winning teams scoring at least 35 points in this rivalry, scored on five straight possessions stretching from the second to third quarters and combined for 419 yards of total offense, including 211 on the ground between eight different ball carriers. However, much of the Tarpons dominance came on the defensive side of the ball, where the interior line bullied the Green Wave.
They stopped the Green Wave, which was averaging just a shade over 25 points per game entering the contest, on their own 30 with 8:36 left in the third quarter, then ensured the 35-point mercy-rule with a 2-yard run just two plays later. The game took a little over two hours to finish.
Tarpons running back Elijah Mack did the dirty work early, finishing with 90 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He added three catches for 49 yards, including a 35-yard score in the third quarter to extend the game out to 28-0.
Maleek Williams finished off the Green Wave late with an 81-yard touchdown run on the team’s first play following an interception.
“We just came together offensively,” Charlotte quarterback Brennan Simms said. “Really before that we were stopping ourselves, they weren’t stopping us. The mistakes we made, we cut down on them and we scored touchdowns.”
The signal-caller engineered three straight scoring drives in the third quarter to essentially close game, and he went 12-for-17 for 208 yards with three passing touchdowns, giving him 12 for the year.
Fort Myers had a forgettable night on the ground. Until its final possession, when it charged 38 yards down the field before tossing a game-ending interception, the Green Wave were in fear of ending the game with negative rushing yards.
They rushed 21 times for 24 yards, with feature back Darrian Felix eating up just three yards on eight carries. Quarterback Edwitch Merisier was intercepted twice and went 14-of-26 for 136 yards.
“Sometimes you learn more about yourself on a night like tonight,” Sirianni said. “This one hurts the ego, but you learn about your football team. I believe these kids will bounce back. It’s my job to get them ready.”
Fort Myers follows in its first 6A-11 district game against Lehigh next week at Lehigh.
FORT MYERS 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | FINAL 0
CHARLOTTE 7 | 14 | 21 | 0 | FINAL 42
C: Stantley Thomas 59 pass from Brennan Simms (Justin Andrukiewicz kick)
C: Elijah Mack 4 run (Andrukiewicz kick)
C: Thomas 25 pass from Simms (Andrukiewicz kick)
C: Mack 35 pass from Simms (Andrukiewicz kick)
C: Maleek Williams 2 run (Andrukiewicz kick)
C: Williams 81 run (Andrukiewicz kick)