Pensacola beats Mosley in game that matters beyond box score

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - So many years...so many games.

Most of them blur into one eventually, but there's a few we'll never forget.

Mosley-Pensacola on Saturday is one of those.

At some point during the last ten days, many of us wondered "when can we actually play sports again?"

Turns out, we could do it 10 days after Hurricane Michael.

Behind the strength of two Jacarri Greene rushing touchdowns and a Connor Cunningham field goal, Mosley took an 18-6 lead into halftime. Another Cunningham field goal put them up 21-18, 2:18 away from a district title.

A Pensacola touchdown toss on 4th and long from Tony Williams to Ernest Stallworth wound up being the game winner with under 40 seconds to go, but the 24-21 title will be remembered for far more than the final score.

Outside in the parking lot, neighbors, local businesses, national chains, and the federal government lent a helping hand.

FEMA set up a trailer with reps to file claims. A church group set up a booth to give away toys to kids who really could use one.

Students and student athletes were on hand in full force, and not just from Mosley.

The cheerleading squads from Mosley, Bay, and Merritt Brown joined forces. The band combined forces as well.

The football teams at Niceville and Choctawhatchee provided a post-game meal and backpacks with supplies.

Senators, mayors, and NFL veterans roamed the sidelines.

Free admission. Free food.

Most importantly, the first chance for many to free our minds from the nightmare we've lived in our homeland for the last week and a half.

"I had two kids come back in town this morning, one from Kentucky and one from Miami," head coach Jeremy Brown said after the game. "We had kids up in Georgia, one up in Arkansas. We've got kids, they don't have a house. We've got a couple of kids still staying in a shelter. We've got a couple of kids that are in a house but they have no electricity, no power. We've got a lot going on with these kids, so the sacrifice they made just to be here just tells you how much Mosley football means to them and how much they mean to us."

The responses from fans decked out in all colors and all team affiliations echoed Brown, clearly showing how much this game meant and represented to everyone else: one of the first signs of a return to normalcy.

"It is an atmosphere of what can we do to help you," Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said. "This community cares and we really want to get back to some normalcy, and whether you're a Bay Haven Buccaneer, or a Rutherford Ram, everybody just realized we needed to come together and this is the first step."

It was also a much needed distraction.

"It was unbelievable for everyone out here just to get out of the house and away from cutting trees, worried about your water and your power, insurance claims and all that stuff. Just to get out on the field, it's special," Brown added. "But man, it hurts for the kids because I know how bad they wanted it."

Mosley falls to 6-2 overall, 2-1 in district play. The 5A-1 title chase is now a three way battle between leader Pensacola (4-3, 2-0), the Dolphins and Arnold (4-2, 1-1), whose week nine game against West Florida will hopefully be rescheduled for a weeknight later this season.

That's just football. In perspective gained from this storm, the box score isn't a big deal.

But being back together again...smiling...cheering...taking our minds off the heavy stuff for just a few hours...that meant everything.

This game mattered.