Port St. Joe senior quarterback Devin Cuttino excelled on both sides of the football for the Tiger Sharks in Friday night’s 22-20 home loss to the visiting Bozeman Bucks. [ James Jackson | The Star ]
| | |

Bozeman edges Port St. Joe 22-20 in thrilling finish

Determined to drag Bozeman into dangerous waters, the Port St. Joe Tiger Sharks welcomed their opponent to Shark Field Friday night focused on putting the first blemish on the Bucks’ perfect 6-0 record.

Riding another stellar effort from their stifling defensive unit, the Bozeman Bucks had just enough to hold off a late-game rally by the Tiger Sharks to secure a 22-20 road victory and extend their undefeated season through seven games.

Entering the night’s matchup, the potent ground attack of the Port St. Joe backfield had their work cut out for them against a near-impenetrable Bozeman defense that had allowed a paltry average of just eight points in each of their six games.

Nevertheless, with the Bucks offense averaging just 5.4 points more per game than that of the Tiger Sharks, the stage was set for a showdown where every point was at a premium and poised to dictate the trajectory of the contest.

Tiger Shark sophomore #11 Corban Butts races downfield, chased by a herd of Bucks. [ James Jackson | The Star ]

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Port St. Joe offense quickly fell victim to the true-to-form Bucks defense, as an interception by senior free safety Collin Miller at the 6:24 mark placed the Bucks in prime scoring territory just outside of their red zone.

Unable to secure a touchdown on their first offensive drive of the night, a missed 33-yard field goal by Bozeman kept the contest scoreless and opened the door to the first points of the evening for Port St. Joe.

With just 7.6 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Tiger Sharks senior quarterback Devin Cuttino converted a quarterback option into a 21-yard rushing touchdown to put Port St. Joe ahead 6-0 heading into the second quarter.

Bozeman quickly neutralized the Tiger Sharks advantage courtesy of a 67-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Collin Miller to take a one-point, 7-6 lead.

Building on their momentum, a later fumble recovery by senior outside linebacker Mathew Tew placed the Bucks on their 47-yard line and paved the way for a 23-yard reception by Bozeman to put them just outside the red zone with just under six minutes left in the half.

Despite converting a third-down run into a first-and-goal opportunity, an errand snap complicated the Bucks’ scoring aspirations, ultimately bringing the drive to a fruitless end.

Tiger Shark senior #12 Daniel Nguyen is about to confront another #12, Bozeman Buck senior Chance Jenkins. [ James Jackson | The Star ]

Flashing some defensive prowess of their own with only 1:15 remaining on the clock, an interception by sophomore outside linebacker Corbin Butts gave the Tiger Sharks a final opportunity to take the edge heading into halftime. But a stalled drive brought the first 24 minutes of play to an end with Bozeman ahead 7-6.

Kicking off the second half with a nail biting bang for Bozeman was Miller, whose kickoff return nearly went the distance before a touchdown-saving tackle ended the run at the Bucks’ 35-yard line.

Just four minutes into the quarter, a 15-yard rushing touchdown by Bozeman, followed by a successful 2-point conversion, pushed the Bucks lead to 15-6.

A fumble inside the 20-yard line by Port St. Joe on the following kickoff set the stage for yet another Bozeman touchdown, this time by way of the air, to expand the Bucks’ lead to 16 points with the score sitting at 22-6.

Refusing to throw in the towel, a touchdown run by Tiger Shark junior Chance Gainer at the 5:22 mark of the third quarter and a successful 2-point conversion dwindled the Bozeman lead to 22-14, with ample time remaining.

Heading into the fourth quarter, what became a 93-yard scoring drive for Port St. Joe began thanks to a crucial interception by Cuttino at the Bozeman 7-yard line.

Capped off by a touchdown run by Cuttino off the left edge with 3:38 remaining, the Tiger Sharks had what ultimately unfolded as their final chance to knot the game with a pivotal 2-point conversion opportunity.

However, the Bozeman defense once again proved to be the X factor for the Bucks, busting into the Port St. Joe backfield for a game-clinching tackle that eventually sealed their 22-20 victory despite one last drive that came up just short for the Tiger Sharks.

Port St. Joe falls to 4-3 on the season with the loss, while Bozeman remains perfect as they head towards Week 8 with a record of 7-0.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.