The tension between the Key West High and Marathon High football teams Wednesday night could have been cut with a butter knife.
The county rival Conchs took home a 24-21 win against the Dolphins at Marathon, though both teams showed equal aggression on the field during the spring football jamboree that closed out three weeks of spring practice.
“We knew it was going to be intense, but not that intense,” said Marathon High coach Paul Davis.
Quarterback Jackson McDonald was behind all three touchdowns for the Dolphins, the first coming five minutes into the game on the Dolphins’ second down following a clean 20-yard pass to Jamal Qualls in the end zone, after which Robert Gonzalez kicked the extra point.
McDonald, who will be a junior in the fall, had 255 passing yards.
“That’s the most passing yards he’s had since I got here,” said Davis, adding the quarterback had 27 passes, 18 of which were complete. “We were very impressed with him and really the whole offensive unit did a great job.”
Penalties kept the Conch boys out of the end zone for the first quarter.
Following a 40-yard pass that landed Conchs wide receiver Payton Hummel on the goal line, a penalty for holding pushed the boys back and they settled for a 45-yard field-goal try, which was no good. Later in the half, the Conchs did put three points on the scoreboard with a field goal by Jair Torres to make it 7-3 with six minutes to go in the second quarter.
There was some smack talk following a tackle by Dolphins running back Roberto Garces with just seconds to go in the half and both teams stormed the field.
“They were just trying to get our guys riled up and get under our skin but I thought our guys held up,” Davis said.
An intense third quarter included a touchdown by Steven Hernandez after a 23-yard pass from McDonald to make the score 13-3 in favor of the Dolphins with five minutes left. An extra point from Gonzalez brought the score to 14-3, a lead the boys would keep throughout most of the third quarter until the Conchs had a touchdown two minutes later to end the quarter at 14-10.
“Toward the end of the game our guys got a little tired on the front,” Davis said.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Conchs’ running back Kolby Kelleher took possession of the ball after McDonald was tackled and made a 70-yard run for a Conchs touchdown. With an extra point, Key West took the lead at 17-14.
Seconds later, a fired-up Garces rushed for 60 yards off a pass from McDonald and into the Dolphins’ end zone to take back the lead. An extra point from Gonzalez made the score 21-17, but the Dolphins wouldn’t take home a win.
One more touchdown for the Conchs with four minutes left to go brought the final score to 24-21.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” Davis said. “Key West has a lot of talent up front and in the back. I thought we could do a little better but I think we kept them in the pocket quite a bit.”
The Dolphins play in the five-team Southeastern Football Conference, which is separate from the Florida High School Athletic Association. Now, the boys will focus on summer practice leading up to the first season game on Aug. 18 at Boca Raton Christian School.
The Conchs play at home the same night, hosting the Scorpions of Satellite High School for a 7 p.m. matchup.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219