MERRITT ISLAND The Merritt Island Mustangs made it look easy in defeating the Space Coast Vipers, 40-7. The Mustangs took control of the game early, driving 70 yards on just seven plays to claim the lead.
Facing a first-and-16 on the opening drive of the game, quarterback James Batch found tight end Connor Allen down the right sideline for a 56-yard catch. Merritt Island scored two plays later to take a lead it never relinquished.
After Space Coast (1-3, 0-1) failed to gain a first down on the ensuing possession, the Mustangs (2-2, 1-0) needed just four plays to find the end zone once again on its way to a 23-point opening quarter.
As efficient as the Mustang offense was, the defense matched that intensity. By the end of the first quarter, Space Coast had managed to run just 12 offensive plays on four offensive possessions. The Vipers didn’t secure a first down until midway through the 2nd quarter and lost a fumble on the following play. Merritt Island capitalized on five Viper punts and two turnovers to extend its lead to 40-0 by the half. The Vipers built a little momentum going into the half, driving deep into Mustang territory, before the half expired.
Batch led the first half onslaught throwing for 89 yards and a touchdown. Batch added 41 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown before he was lifted from the game with 8 minutes remaining in the half. Mason Denaburg took over and played the rest of the game at QB for Merritt Island.
After falling behind quickly, the Vipers were forced to turn to the passing game in an attempt to catch up. Bradley Cantrell completed 21 of 31 attempts for 277 yards and threw a late touchdown pass to avoid the shutout. Because of the early deficit, Space Coast only recorded 10 rushing attempts, and several of those attempts were passes behind the line of scrimmage.
Space Coast 0 0 0 7 — 7
Merritt Island 23 17 0 0 — 40
HOW THEY SCORED
MI – James Batch 3 Run (Mason Denaburg Kick Failed) 9:10 remaining
MI – Rydell Peterson 1 Run (Denaburg Kick) 6:54 remaining
MI – Mason Denaburg 30 FG 3:15 remaining
MI – Deben Peterson 3 Pass from Batch (Denaburg Kick) 1:08 remaining
MI – Sean Diggs 8 Run (Denaburg Kick) 9:57 remaining
MI – Desmond Jean-Baptist 11 Run (Denaburg Kick) 9:00 remaining
MI – Denaburg 37 FG 2:57 remaining
SC – Jason Browning 20 Pass from Bradley Cantrell (Luke Galloway Kick) 11:37 remaining
Rushing: Space Coast – Gabriel Perez 6-4, Bradley Cantrell 2-3, Deundrell Turpin 1-5, Johnny Jones 1-(-3), Si Washington 1-(-18); Merritt Island – Sean Diggs 6-60 TD, Desmond Jean-Baptist 12-44 TD, James Batch 9-41 TD, Mason Denaburg 4-26, Deben Peterson 2-39, Rydell Peterson 3-8 TD
Passing: Space Coast – Bradley Cantrell 21-31-277-1 TD; Merritt Island – James Batch 4-7-89-0 TD, Mason Denaburg 0-3-0-0
Receiving: Space Coast – Connor Perrine 8-93, Jason Browning 5-78 TD, Johnny Jones 3-7, Gabriel Perez 3-7, Austin Crosby 2-23, Anthony Decamp 1-0; Merritt Island – Deben Peterson 2-29 TD, Connor Allen 1-56, Mason Denaburg 1-4