If not for three kicks returned for touchdowns, the Coral Shores High football team would have been tied or even potentially in the lead entering the fourth quarter of a defensive struggle against Florida Christian on Friday, Sept. 3, in Miami.

In fact, despite surrendering a second kickoff return for a touchdown to go along with a punt return for a touchdown, Coral Shores trailed by just 13 late in the fourth quarter. That’s when things got out of hand for the Hurricanes, as turnovers and bad field possession resulted in two late scores for the 42-12 final.

“We stuck in there until one thing just started snowballing into another,” said Coral Shores coach Alphonso Bryant. “Defensively I thought we played great, my hat goes off to the defense, but offensively we never did anything right.”

Both defenses dominated the action, as by the end of the first quarter the offenses had combined to lose 12 yards, with Coral Shores posting minus 16 yards on offense when the fields were cleared for a 35-minute lightning delay in the second quarter.

It seemed as if the break may have resulted in a different Hurricanes team coming onto the field as Dantay Diorio returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown to make it a one-point difference, following a missed point-after attempt by the ’Canes, and Chris Cooper going for his personal game-high 37-yard run, but by halftime the senior running back was the only Coral Shors player in positive yardage, with 47 on 12 attempts, and his team trailing by a touchdown.

It was more defensive domination in the second half, as the Hurricanes allowed just 3 yards in the third, but Florida Christian pushed Coral Shores back another 46 yards in the quarter.

“I felt like one guy, No. 99, took us out of our rhythm all night,” said Bryant.

Coral Shores would keep the game interesting when Dominic Montegudo, who finished with a team-high five tackles, picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, but the two-point attempt to make the score even was thwarted by Florida Christian, which carried the momentum the remainder of the way.

In the end, the Hurricanes allowed the Patriots to gain just 74 total offensive yards while the Coral Shores ground attack was able to combine for 36 total yards, Cooper getting 30 of those of 16 carries, but the ‘Canes were sacked seven times in the game for a loss of 66 yards, leaving them with a total of -30 yards in the game.

“I thought we’d have great success running the ball against them, but we just didn’t block anybody all night,” said Bryant. “We didn’t move our feet and do the things that are necessary. We didn’t hit anybody and when we did make contact we didn’t finish.

“Our defense matched their physicality; our offense didn’t show up,” the Coral Shores coach concluded.

Coming off the offensive collapse, Bryant noted it is the ideal time for his Coral Shores program to be making its home debut — on Friday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. — despite being scheduled to begin the 2021 campaign with back-to-back home contests.

“We are excited to be able to be coming back home,” said Bryant. “We have to move on quickly, let this one go, and get ready for the next opponent. You just have to sure up confidence and make sure nobody is handing their heads.”