Down 14-0, the Destin Marlins battled back to beat the Meigs Wildcats in middle school football Thursday night in Shalimar.

“We stepped up in adversity,” said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan. “We finally got challenged and hit in the mouth a few times and our kids responded and refused to lose … it was huge.”

Meigs got on the board first after stripping the ball away from the Marlins and then taking it in on an 18-yard run.

The Wildcats struck again at the start of the second quarter with quarterback Blake Garland connecting with Ryan Savage for an 8-yard strike. The two connected again for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 advantage.

Destin finally scored about two minutes into the second quarter. Starting at midfield, Jack Tenholder picked up 17 yards, and then Anthony Ordonez rushed for 9. Tenholder picked up four more yards before Ordonez broke loose for a 25-yard run to the end zone. Trip Scannell kicked in the point after for a 14-7 game.

On Meigs next possession, Destin’s Maddox Hayles swatted away a Garland pass to stop the Wildcats.

Destin took over again at midfield and picked up a couple of first downs on runs from Tenholder and quarterback Harrison Orr. With the ball down inside the red zone, the Marlins made a bad pitchout and Meigs’ Savage came up with the ball with just second left until halftime.

At the start of the third, Destin didn’t waste time evening up the score. Destin’s Tabious Thompson returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for the TD. Scannell kicked in the point to tie the game 14-14.

The Marlin defense stopped the Wildcats and then proceeded to march down the field for another TD. Orr connected with Pavel Baturyn for a pickup of 26 yards, before Tenholder rushed five times finally taking it in on a 2-yard run. Scannell kicked in another PAT for a 21-14 lead with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

In the fourth, the Destin defense shut Meigs down. With the Wildcats back to punt, Tenholder broke through the line and blocked a punt, then picking up about 10 yards.

Destin stopped Meigs twice more. Tenholder recovered a fumbled and Maddax Fayard picked off a Garland pass.

For the game, Destin had 214 yards total offense with Tenholder carrying the ball 26 times for 113 yards. Orr completed three of four passes for 43 yards.

Meigs had 172 yards of which 94 were on the ground. Cole Tabb was the workhorse with 85 yards. Garland completed three of 15 passes for 78 yards and one TD.

Up next for Destin is a 6:30 p.m. game Sept. 13 at home against the Pryor Pirates of Fort Walton Beach.