PUNTA GORDA -- Fort Myers dominated the Charlotte Tarpons for 40 minutes ... then hung on for dear life in a thrilling 36-31 victory.
Charlotte scored 21 points in the final 6:08 and appeared destined to make it eight straight victories against the Green Wave. But junior T.J. Morgan picked up 9 yards on a crucial fourth-and-7 to prevent any would-be "Hail Mary" attempt.
"It's still disappointing the way we finished the game, but that's a credit to Charlotte," Fort Myers head coach Sammy Sirianni said. "I told our guys they wouldn't quit."
Fort Myers (5-0) appeared to have the game well in hand when quarterback T.J. Douglas connected with sophomore James Brunson on a 1-yard touchdown to put the Green Wave ahead 36-10 with 9:59 to play.
It was the fourth touchdown on the day for Douglas. The Duke-bound senior rushed for 218 yards and a pair of scores and threw for another 25 with two TDs compliments of Brunson.
But that's when things got crazy. Charlotte (3-2) returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards and nine plays later, Clyde Newton scored on a 4-yard run. The senior back finished with 77 yards on 22 carries.
The Tarpons aerial attack was another matter, as Brennan McGill found Dwight Reynolds for a 68-yard touchdown at the 3:56 mark and Dwayne Reynolds for a 17-yard score with 2:36 to play.
Charlotte third onside kick attempt -- the Tarpons were 1 for 2 -- went out of bounds and Fort Myers managed a pair of first downs to secure the victory.
It certainly wasn't easy though. Facing fourth-and-1 with 27.2 seconds remaining, the Green Wave were flagged for a false start, but Morgan delivered with his game-ending, 9-yarder.
"I feel like this win is going to propel us into more wins," Douglas said. "This was a big one for us as far as getting our confidence and showing everybody Fort Myers comes out to play every game."
Douglas certainly did his part. Fort Myers also got strong performances from Morgan (105 yards and one TD on seven carries) and Terrance Moore (60 yards on 11 carries).