Fitzgerald paid back Worth on Friday night for last season's doubt OT upset in Sylvester.
FITZGERALD -- The fourth quarter was the difference in Friday night's hot and humid game between perennial Region 1-AA powerhouse Fitzgerald and Worth County, as the Rams lost their season opener on the road 28-14.
In the first half, however, the Rams gave those donned in purple a flashback to last year's matchup at Milt Miller Field in Sylvester, where Rams topped the Purple Hurricanes, 32-26, in double overtime.
"I thought the first half was a pretty good half of football," Worth coach Scotty Ward said.
Through the first 24 minutes of play, Worth and Fitzgerald traded blows. The Rams struck first on a 56-yard play-action pass from junior Tumaz Gaint to senior Savon Farley, silencing the packed home stands. Gaint went 4-for-12 through the air, racking up 80 yards and one TD.
But it wouldn't take long for Fitzgerald to answer with a TD of its own -- courtesy of freshman RB Deonivs Bonner, who scored on a 10-yard run.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Worth took the lead again -- along with the momentum -- on a 4-yard yard QB keeper by Farley, who spent the majority of his offensive time running the "wildcat" for Worth. Farley carried the ball nine times for 38 yards and a TD.
Fitzgerald, in spite of facing the possibility of starting a season off 0-2 for the first time since 1999 after losing to Tift County in its season opener last week, tacked on another seven points with just 12 seconds left in the first half.
Worth received the ball to start the second half looking to light up the scoreboard, but went three-and-out on their first possession.
"You really want to come out in the second half and make a statement and we didn't," said Ward.
Worth had only one first down in the second half, and was 0-for-5 in converting third downs.
Mental mistakes plagued the Rams for the remainder the game, but they managed to keep Fitzgerald out of the end zone until the last five minutes of forth quarter, when Fitzgerald took the lead and never looked back.
"You can't expect to go through our schedule and win games without doing the little things," said Ward, who added that both teams were struggling through the humid summer night. "I thought overall we played OK. We just made some simple errors that ended up costing us the game."
Worth was plus-one in turnovers and held the Purple Hurricanes to only 248 total yards of offense, while putting up 177 yards of its own.
"(Next week in practice) we'll work on correcting all the little things we did wrong -- both mental and physical," Ward said.