Three players were ejected following a fight that broke out on the right sideline with 3:51 left in the third quarter. North Fort Myers junior running back, Zaquandre White, a Florida State commit, threw the first punch that resulted in a bigger fight that left two others ejected from both teams.
North Fort Myers was left without White and one other after the skirmish. North athletic director Kathy Padilla and principal Matt Mederios would not confirm who was asked to leave the contest by officials.
“Generally how this plays out is that we wait for the FHSAA to make a ruling on the matter,” Mederios said.
South Fort Myers head coach Anthony Dixon and school athletic director Don Payne confirmed Jacquez Thornton was ejected from the contest. Other players who were not officially ejected were also taken off the field, Dixon said, though he said he would wait to see from tape whether any further players would be punished for their actions.
South Fort Myers won the game 28-18 behind two Riley Ware touchdowns and 80 yards rushing and a score by junior E’Quan Dorris. Senior Andre Polk also secured a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Both teams were plagued by penalties in the first half, with North accruing seven flags for 75 yards and South being awarded six for 45 yards.
Ejections carry a limit of a two-game suspension by the FHSAA, Payne said, unless gross misconduct was involved. In that case, a longer suspension of six games could be warranted, he said.
“This is playoff atmosphere,” Dixon said. “If you come down here at the end of the season, that happens in the playoffs, you’re done.”
North Fort Myers surged ahead in the first quarter, scoring first from a six-play, 39-yard series with a touchdown by White. Quarterback J’Ravien Anderson, who went 6-of-11 for 43 yards, tossed a 6-yard out to the running back, who finished the game with 13 carries for 34 yards.
But South came racing back in the second quarter, scoring two unanswered touchdowns to take a 14-6 lead at halftime. Polk’s 52-yard interception return for a touchdown solidified a locked-in defense that rarely let the Red Knights breath.
“We’re young,” Dixon said. “We wanted it to be a physical game. We knew we were going to play defense. We just wanted to make sure our young kids didn’t make a mistake.”
While South had its own offensive issues — just 108 yards rushing and 48 yards passing — its defense hardly let North breath, finishing with three interceptions on the night.
North added two late touchdowns, including an 8-yard catch from Freddie Johnson and a 50-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Errick Dorsey, but it was too late.
Dorris said the night got ahead of a few players Thursday, including his cousin, White.
“A little more emotion and stuff,” he said.
Friday’s preseason Classic games
*All games are 7 p.m. unless noted
Cape Coral at Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.
Riverdale at Cypress Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Bishop Verot at Estero
Palmetto Ridge at Ida Baker
Lely at Island Coast
Golden Gate at Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.
ECS at Mariner
North Port at Lehigh
Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy at SFCA
East Lee County at Lemon Bay
Okeechobee at LaBelle, 7:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Lakewood at Naples, 7:30 p.m.
First Baptist at Delray Beach Village Academy
Gulf Coast at Immokalee
Gateway Charter at Marco Island Academy
St. John Neumann at Coral Shores
St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins at Barron Collier