It was frustrating for Fort Myers coach Sam Sirianni Jr. to bite his tongue all week as the South Fort Myers defense was celebrated around town leading into Friday’s rivalry game.
He waited for his turn to speak until after the Green Wave’s dominant defensive effort in a 20-7 win over the No. 7 team in Class 7A, which was giving up just a little more than 10 points a game, Friday at Edison Stadium.
Fort Myers (3-1) closed out South (3-1), holding it to just 44 yards in the second half along with three interceptions and a forced fumble which turned into a scoop-and-score that served as the game-winning touchdown.
“I listened all week as you guys talked about how great this South defense is and rightfully so,” Sirianni said of the team that held Lehigh to just 152 total yards a week ago. “I challenged this defense which had some pretty deceiving stats from the first two games against Palmetto and North. They’re pretty good too. They knew they were the underdog and they were going to have to play that way.”
In the series where the winner usually claims the bragging rights as the top team in Lee County, the two teams had split the previous four games.
What many thought would be a high-scoring affair, became a defensive struggle after Fort Myers running back Darrian Felix took the fourth play from scrimmage down the sideline 58 yards for a touchdown and South’s Willie Johnson answered with an 86-yard kickoff return up the middle for a score.
Both teams struggled to reach the 100-yard mark by halftime.
It continued into the final 24 minutes as both teams went three and out on their first possessions.
But on South’s second possession, junior Widchard Guervil changed the momentum of the game when he penetrated the Wolfpack backfield and took advantage of a mishandled exchange. He swooped in, catching it stride and continuing into the end zone to put the Green Wave up 14-7.
After rushing for 81 yards on 11 carries in the first half, South workhorse running back managed just 41 more yards the rest of the game.
Still trailing by a score in the fourth, Fort Myers notched a big tackle for a loss on third down to force a punt.
On the ensuing possession, the Green Wave faced a third-and-11 and the likely scenario of having to put the ball back in the Wolfpack’s hands with under 5 minutes to go. Instead, quarterback Edwitch Merisier found Bensley Bornelus, who was wide open because of a busted coverage, downfield for a 67-yard touchdown pass.
Junior Matt McQuinn sealed the victory with interceptions on South’s last two possessions.
“When you beat a good team like this it shows how much you’ve improved,” Sirianni said. “We schedule up for that reason. We want to play some really good teams.”
The tough road continues next week when the Green Wave travels to 4-0 Charlotte, which finished just outside the 6A top 10 this week. South hosts undefeated Dunbar.
South 7 | 0 | 0 | 0 | FINAL 7
Fort Myers 7 | 0 | 7 | 6 | FINAL 20
FM: Darrian Felix 58 run (Jeff St. Louis kick)
SFM: Willie Johnson 86 kick return (Casey Winn kick)
FM: Widchard Guervil 33 fumble return (St. Louis kick)
FM: Bensley Bornelus 67 pass from Edwitch Merisier (kick failed)