PORT ST. JOE — Jarkeice Davis and Port St. Joe sprinted into the new football season Friday at Shark Field.
Davis, a senior fullback, rushed for 237 yards and five touchdowns — all in the first half — and the Tiger Sharks cruised to a 41-7 victory over county rival Wewahitchka.
Davis finished with 248 yards and scored all six Port St. Joe touchdowns on just 14 carries, exploiting a combination of excellent blocking up front and some spotty tackling by the Gators.
Davis added two receptions for 15 yards and the Tiger Sharks (1-0) finished with 462 total yards of offense. Wewahitchka had 162.
“I thought the offensive line came out and played hard and did a great job opening holes,” Port St. Joe coach John Palmer said. “We didn’t execute as crisply as I would have liked, but this is the first game.
“I didn’t like the penalties (eight for 80 yards) and we are going to have to clean that up. We just have some things to work on.”
While the Gators (0-1) played better in the second half, allowing Port St. Joe just 130 yards of offense and one touchdown, the first-half avalanche was too much to overcome.
“We are better than we played tonight,” Wewahitchka coach Loren Tillman said. “We talked about it at halftime, that they wear that (Wewahitchka) on their jerseys not for themselves, but for their school and their community.
“There were many people to play hard for and I thought we came out and played better in the second half, especially our tackling.”
After the Gators deferred and kicked off to start the game, the Davis show was on.
He completed a 56-yard opening drive with a 23-yard run on the sixth play and Cole Cryderman, who missed just one of six extra points, made it 7-0.
The Gators opened with a new formation, Taylor Flowers at quarterback and Rashard Ranie in the backfield.
It seemed to startle the Tiger Sharks a bit as Wewahitchka moved into Port St. Joe territory, but Flowers, under pressure, threw short for an interception by Jak Riley at the Tiger Shark 30 and Ranie moved to quarterback the rest of the way.
One play after the interception, Davis took a pitch right, out-flanked the defense and was gone for a touchdown.
Port St. Joe held Wewahitchka to three-and-out and Davis finished a 45-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run through two tacklers.
The Gators, with the help of an unsportsmanlike penalty, managed to hold the ball for most of the next seven minutes, moving to the Tiger Shark 40 before faltering and being forced to punt.
Three plays later, Davis went 84 yards, busting over left tackle and leaving two tacklers grasping air with a nifty fake at the point of attack before finding nothing but open field.
The first-half blitz was completed with an 18-yard touchdown run from Davis and Port St. Joe was up 34-0.
After forcing the Gators to punt on the opening series of the second half, Port St. Joe took over at its 44 and needed seven plays to make it 41-0 on a 5-yard run by Davis.
At that point, Palmer began substituting liberally.
Wewahitchka scored when Brett Satterfield busted over left guard and rumbled 69 yards on the ensuing series. Peter Setterich added the extra point to complete the scoring.