Gulf Coast's Carson Vetor hauls in one of his four touchdown catches during the Sharks' 33-29 home win over Lely on Friday night. SCOTT SHOOK/SPECIAL TO CSI
“Hats off to that kid,” Lely High School football coach JJ Everage said after Gulf Coast capped a rainy Senior Night with a 33-29 shootout win Friday over the Trojans.
“He played a heck of a ball game,” Everage continued. “I’m not sure (of) the receiver’s name, but he had the game of his life. Hats off to him on Senior Night.”
That kid was Carson Vetor, a senior wide receiver who caught four touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Konner Barrett in a game that opened with heavy rain and saw intermittent downpours throughout.
“Carson Vetor moved down here last year from Chicago,” said first-year Sharks coach Todd Nichols, who commented on another facet of the clutch receiver’s game. “I think he’s the best return man in the county.”
The skies opened up as Lely ran its first play from scrimmage. The Trojans fumbled on their own 18. Then Gulf Coast fumbled the ball right back to Lely as the downpour continued.
“The clouds opened up on us early and it kind of took away what we wanted to do on that first drive,” said Everage, now in his second season as Lely coach. “We had to run the ball a little bit. But both sides had to play in the same weather.”
Lely quarterback JJ Dervil and running back Guerschom Guerrier took turns carrying the ball. Evan Fridae also made a big run in the Trojans’ first-quarter scoring drive. Dervil scored from six yards out to put Lely up 6-0 with 1:13 left in the quarter.
The Sharks answered with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Vetor with 10:08 left in the second quarter to tie things up at 6-6.
Lely continued to have success running the ball as Dervil and Guerrier demonstrated some slick maneuvering despite the wet conditions. It was often difficult to tell who had the ball as Dervil would often fake the ball to Guerrier before pulling it back.
With 8:09 left in the first half, Dervil ran around left end for a 4-yard touchdown. A successful extra-point kick by Jonathon Garcia gave Lely a 13-6 lead.
Gulf Coast answered back as Vetor split two Trojan defenders down the middle, and Barrett hit him in stride for a 30-yard touchdown with 5:04 left in the second quarter. A failed conversion left the score 13-12.
The Sharks held Lely to a 26-yard Garcia field goal with 5:18 left in the third quarter as the Trojans stretched their lead to 16-12.
With the clock winding down in the third quarter, things changed in a big way for Gulf Coast.
Barrett threw a high pass to a well-defended Vetor, who went up between two Lely defenders to make a great catch. The 21-yard touchdown strike put the Sharks on top 19-16 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
Within 15 seconds, Lely fumbled on its own 20, and Barrett and Vetor hooked up again — this time from 13 yards out — to stretch the Sharks’ lead to 26-16.
“I think the game turned on that fumble,” Nichols said.
Lely battled back with a 51-yard Dervil-to-Sergio Morancy touchdown pass with 7:21 left in the game to cut its deficit to 26-23.
The Sharks began to move the ball on the ground, with Tayshun Lesane effectively finishing Lely off with a 26-yard TD run with 5:42 left to move the score to 33-23.
Lely refused to die as Dervil connected again with Morancy — this time for a 75-yard touchdown. The PAT failed, and Lely’s hopes were dashed when Gulf Coast’s Henry Takacs picked off a pass in the game’s waning moments.
After being shut out by Palmetto Ridge a week earlier, Everage found a silver lining in his offense’s performance.
“I thought we did a lot of good things offensively,” Everage said. “Rotating two quarterbacks in. Brian Bachmann, a sophomore, did a great job when he got in there. He’s got ice water in his veins. JJ Dervil, every week, is probably the best athlete on the field. Teams have to account for him and prepare for him.”
But in the end it was just too much of Carson Vetor, who hauled in 10 passes for 176 yards. Through four games this season, Vetor has 21 catches for 321 yards — a 15.3 yards-per-catch average — and seven touchdowns.
“We just gave up a couple of big plays,” Everage said. “My hat’s off to Gulf Coast.”
Nichols was justifiably happy with the way things ended for his team, which improved to 2-2.
“It went back and forth,” Nichols said. “I like the way our team responded each time. Our quarterback keeps getting better. He’s just a sophomore. He’s improving on the three Cs: confidence, consistency and composure. I like our schedule; it’s only six games. We have a bye week, then we play Golden Gate. Then we’ve got Palmetto Ridge.”
Lely fell to 1-2. The Trojans host 0-4 Immokalee on Friday, then host Naples in the Coconut Bowl, the county’s oldest rivalry.
“We’ve just got to build on it,” Everage said. “Everything that’s wrong with us right now is because of us. It’s easily fixable. We’ve just gotta fix it. It was a tough loss, but I always tell ’em, ‘There’s two ways you can respond: You can either become bitter or you can become better.’”