If there was any question where this football game was leading Friday night, Naples made sure to erase that doubt by the second half.
The screws tightened for the Golden Eagles in the third quarter against Gulf Coast following two-back-to-back passing touchdowns and Naples made a competitive game a nearly insurmountable one late as it cruised past the visiting Sharks 42-6 at Staver Field in a non-conference game.
Senior quarterback Kieran DiGiorno had three touchdown passes, one coming right before half and two others after intermission, as he passed for 183 yards, ran for another score and led the Golden Eagles (2-1) past the Sharks (3-1), which hadn’t beaten them in 17 previous encounters.
Naples, which has averaged over 48 points in three wins, accumulated 401 yards of total offense as it scored in a myriad of ways. It heads to Immokalee next Friday in another tough non-conference matchup.
“It’s always nice coming out of halftime and playing strong and not slowing down, even when you have a decent lead coming out of halftime,” said DiGiorno, who made up for an interception at the end of the first quarter.
He certainly had some help, which came in a strong opening frame from running back Carlin Fils-aime, who rushed for 126 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. He scored on his second touch from scrimmage following a 53 yard run and later added a 49 yard score to put the Golden Eagles up 14-0.
Naples receivers provided much of the credit late, including sophomore Wooby Theork, who had three catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. The first-time varsity player scored his first touchdown with 7:12 left in the second quarter to give the Golden Eagles a 21-6 lead.
Tyler Byrd added four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, his 55 yard score coming with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
But Gulf Coast wasn’t without some innovation early in the first quarter. The Sharks unveiled five- and six-receiver sets in its second drive, pounding the ball down the field before they turned the ball over on downs at the Naples’ 6.
On the sideline, the Golden Eagles coaching staff was pleading to officials that the Sharks were running ineligible receivers, though no penalties were thrown.
“They came out in the pole cat thing, and they were putting out ineligible guys and all that whatever, it was smoke and mirrors, great job (Gulf Coast) coach Fagan.”
Ultimately, the Naples defense did its job, frustrating Sharks quarterback Kaden Frost into a forgettable night. The sophomore went 7 of 20 for 82 yards and a touchdown. At one point in the third quarter, the Sharks defense also committed three 15-yard penalties, later resulting in a Golden Eagles touchdown.
The Sharks, who host winless Estero next Friday, stalled on every drive but one, fumbled twice and punted a total of eight times.
Naples, meanwhile, scored five plays into its first drive in the second half, then added a touchdown less than two minutes later on its first possession of the ensuing drive. The defense did, however, have eight penalties on the night.
“It was huge,” Kramer said. “And we called it. We said ‘Here’s what we’re going to do and they can’t cover us,’ so we did it. And I think everybody was real confident. Everybody in that locker room was like, ‘Hey Coach, it’s obvious. Let’s score touchdowns.’”
Gulf Coast | 0 | 6 | 0 | 0 | FINAL 6
Naples | 14 | 7 | 21 | 0 | FINAL 42
N: Carlin Fils-aime 2 run (Jerry Nunez kick)
N: Fils-aime 49 run (Nunez kick)
GC: Brendon Drugan 13 pass from Kaden Frost (two-point conversion failed)
N: Wooby Theork 20 pass from Kieran DiGiorno (Nunez kick)
N: Tyler Byrd 55 pass from DiGiorno (Nunez kick)
N: Theork 43 pass from DiGiorno (Nunez kick)
N: DiGiorno 1 run (Nunez kick)