PORT ST. JOHN
Melbourne High doesn’t usually have a quick-strike offense, but on Saturday, the Bulldogs did just that in a 27-0 football victory.
With 1 minute, 42 seconds to play in the first half on Saturday, Space Coast lined up for a 37-yard field goal attempt that would have cut Melbourne’s lead to four. Thirty-three seconds of clock time later, the Bulldogs had a three-touchdown lead.
Melbourne earned a non-district win in a game postponed from Friday night by lightning. It was the second shutout of Space Coast in two regular-season games and the first under interim head coach Jake Owens.
After the Vipers’ snap was off and the kick wide and short on the second-quarter field goal try, Melbourne went the other way in one play to make it 14-0. Cooper Christiano ran behind his left tackle and broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run.
“I was just really happy to see that I had my blockers,” Christiano said. “I saw that opening and I had my fullback Ricky Rivera seal (a defender) and Carson Jackson seal a linebacker. They helped me into the clear.”
On the ensuing kickoff, Nick Penella grabbed the ball out of the hands of the Vipers kick returner and ran 20 yards for another score.
“I hit the blocker and after that the returner just ran into him,” Penella said. “I saw an opportunity to take the ball, spun and took off with it.”
Meanwhile, the Melbourne defense held Space Coast to 60 yards on the ground, nearly all of that in the final period. Vipers quarterback Nick Rittenhouse completed 12-of-27 passes for 128 yards, but no touchdowns.
One of Bulldogs’ coach Todd Wilson’s major concerns at kickoff had been the heat of a 1:30 p.m. game and the disruption in his players’ routine of Friday night action.
“I knew we’d be OK with conditioning, but it was hot,” he said. “It’s the change. These guys aren’t used to playing at this time.”
The Bulldogs adapted, and so did Jackson. Holding on a Melbourne field goal attempt late in the first period, he picked up a bad snap and sprinted five yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead. Melbourne finished the scoring on a 13-yard Sterling Munich-to-Todd Zanzinger touchdown pass.
Space Coast 0
M: Carson Jackson 5 run (Pat Brush kick), 1:08
M: Cooper Christiano 80 run (Brush kick), 1:21
M: Nick Penella 20 fumble return (kick failed), 1:09
M: Todd Zanzinger 13 pass from Sterling Munich (Brush kick), 0:03
M — Christiano 6-99, Jackson 9-44, Penella 6-28, Munich 5-27, Ricky Rivera 4-21, Rickey Blackmon 1-9, Parker Kempfer 3-4; SC — Nick Rittenhouse 18-36, Omar Fulton 15-24.
M — Munich 5-8-0 64; SC — Rittenhouse 12-27-1 128.
M — Kempfer 2-27, Jackson 1-18, Zanzinger 1-13, Rivera 1-6; SC — Brandon Weaver 5-45, Austin Lewis 3-25, Kyle Yancey 2-32, Cole Cisco 1-25, Fulton 1-1.