Throw in a couple of interceptions, a field goal and even a safety and the Destin Marlins had the right recipe for a 19-14 win over the Pryor Pirates in middle school football action Thursday night at Etheredge Stadium in Fort Walton Beach.
“Want to,” was the biggest difference, said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan as he walked off the field.
“We had to fight to win this one and they did. They stepped up through adversity and played hard," Hinterthan said. “Our offense played well, defense played well and special teams played well … and they all played four quarters.
“I’m proud of our guys,” he added.
Destin started strong stopping the Pirates on a fourth-and-one situation. The Marlins took over on the 37-yard line and put the ball in the end zone. Jack Tenholder picked up 6 yards in two carries, then Jackson Crews broke away for a 21-yard run bringing the ball down to the 2-yard line. On the next play, Parker Hill pushed it across the line for the score. Nathan Stepp kicked in the point after and Destin led 7-0.
The Destin defense shut the Pirates down again forcing them to punt on fourth down.
Starting from their own 37-yard line this time, the Marlins put together a 10-play drive for the score. Crews had two catches from Max Moran on the series for gains of 2 and 13 yards. Hill ran the ball three times for a total of 25 yards and then Aiden Garrity finished it up with a 7-yard run and then a 3-yard run up the middle for the touchdown. Stepp kicked in his second extra point and Destin was up 14-0 with 6:29 left in the first half.
On Pryor’s next possession, Destin again shut them down quickly. After a 17-yard gain by Jonathan Powell, he was then picked off by Destin’s Preston Murphy, who ran it back about 52 yards before he was taken down at the 13-yard line.
Destin got it down to the 7-yard line, but then opted to try a field goal on the fourth down. Stepp stepped up and booted in a 23-yard field goal to put the Marlins up 17-0.
The celebration didn’t last long as the Pirates’ Jayce Brown returned the kickoff back 75-yards for the score. The two-point attempt failed.
Destin led 17-6 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Destin defense stood strong again. This time Destin’s Luke Edelman picked off a Powell pass.
The Marlins failed to capitalize on the possession and had to punt.
With good field advantage, Pryor scored on an 18-yard pass play from Powell to Darrian Holmes. Powell ran in the two-point conversion for a 17-14 game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Destin was forced to punt and the Marlins took Holmes down in the end zone for a safety and another two points for a 19-14 advantage.
Destin got the ball and ran a couple of plays before taking a knee.
For the game, Destin had 192 yards total offense, with 156 coming on the ground. Garrity was the workhorse with 73 yards in 12 carries and a touchdown. Hill had 43 yards and Crews 36. Moran completed four of eight passes for 36 yards.
Pryor had 62 yards on offense, split evenly between rushing and passing.
Up next for Destin is a 6:30 p.m. game on Thursday at Baker.