The Sandcrabs scored late in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
The district tournament was all about “redemption” for Seabreeze’s flag football team.
The No. 3 seed Sandcrabs faced No. 2 seed Pine Ridge, who handed the Sandcrabs their first loss of the season on April 2, in the semifinal on Tuesday, April 23. The Sandcrabs defeated the Panthers 19-13 to advance to the district championship for the second year in a row.
Where they faced No. 1 seed Mainland — for the second year in a row.
The Buccaneers completed a gritty, fourth quarter comeback to top the Sandcrabs in their regular season matchup April 11.
Down 7-6 entering the fourth quarter on the night of Thursday, April 25, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex, the sting of that previous loss to their biggest foe served as motivation.
“We just remembered how it felt when they beat us,” Seabreeze's Kara Haas said. “We didn’t want to feel like that again.”
After Haas stopped Mainland’s Ava Dougherty — who scored the Buccaneers’ lone touchdown late in the first half — short of the goal line, the Sandcrabs had 8 minutes and 5 seconds to march 78 yards.
The first play of the drive almost ended in disaster. Sandcrabs quarterback Bailey McQuarrie threw a pass right into the arms of a Buccaneers defensive back for what would have most assuredly been a pick six — but the ball was dropped.
Two plays later, the Sandcrabs faced a fourth-and-1 inside their own 20, but Haas made a sure-handed catch to pick up the first down.
“I went up to Bailey [McQuarrie] after the game and told her how awesome she is. She’s got the heart of a lion. I love watching her play. Our girls fought hard, too. That game could have gone either way. It was a good battle.”
Scott Wilson, Mainland coach
The Sandcrabs battled penalties, a pair of false starts and a personal foul, and faced fourth-and-10 with 2 minutes to go. Center Alex Nelson made a diving catch just beyond the first down marker to keep the drive alive. And after McQuarrie picked up another first down on a quarterback run, the Sandcrabs got to the Buccaneers’ 15-yard line.
With 1:24 remaining, Nelson snapped the ball to McQuarrie, who dropped back and with defenders in her face, launched the ball downfield. Nelson caught it a yard short of the end zone and extended the ball as Mainland defenders scrambled to pull her flag.
“There was no way I was going to drop that ball,” Nelson said.
Mainland turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, but got the ball back with 2.2 seconds left after the Sandcrabs failed to run out the clock.
However, Mainland quarterback Alexa Wilson's pass was batted down, and the game was over, Seabreeze winning 12-7.
For the second year in a row, the Sandcrabs defeated Mainland to win the 1A District 9 title.
“It shows the heart that these girls have,” Seabreeze coach Mike Fries said. “They believe in each other, and no matter what the score is, no matter how much time is left on the clock, they’re going to bust their butts until they win it.”