PORT ST. JOHN
Once again, the Rockledge Raiders proved that good football teams don’t panic when things don’t go their way early on.
And while the Space Coast Vipers would lose its final game of the season, 28-14 to those Rockledge Raiders, the Vipers gave the kind of performance they can use to build upon for next season.
Quarterback Alex Adler scored on a 17-yard run and hit wide receiver Justin Crapps with touchdown passes of 37 and 48 yards as the Raiders improved to 7-2 overall and finished up Class 5A, District 13 play with a 4-1 record.
Space Coast (1-9, 0-5) opened the game with a 68-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock and ended with a 2-yard touchdown plunge by quarterback Nick Rittenhouse.
In fact, in the first quarter, the Vipers ran 20 to just six for Rockledge. Even when the Raiders did score on the first long pass from Adler to Crapps, a bad snap left Space Coast in front 7-6.
If that weren’t enough for the Raiders, they had three long punt returns by Vadray Crouch — including what would have been a 72-yard return for a touchdown — called back because of penalties.
Rockledge would go up 21-7 early in the third quarter, but the Vipers rallied for another score of their own to get back within a touchdown.
However, the Raiders would seal the game on the second touchdown pass between Adler and Crapps, which came with 3:39 to play.
KEY PLAYERS: Adler completed 7-of-14 passes for 162 yards an two touchdowns. Crapps finished with three receptions for 108 yards. Joe Brown scored on a 1-yard touchdown run for the Raiders and also had two catches for 40 yards. Aundrey Strong had a couple of sacks on defense and Joe Spinelli had a big sack in the second half.
In addition to his rushing touchdown, Rittenhouse was 14-for-29 for 189 yards and a touchdown for the Vipers. Senior receiver Kyle Yancey had six receptions for 113 yards, including and 11-yard touchdown pass. Senior Sterling Jones had a big game defensively, notching a couple of sacks and also stuffing one run in the backfield. Senior Taylor Quinn had a couple of big hits on defense as well. Running back Brenton Crouch gained 54 yards on 12 carries.
THEY SAID IT: “They believe they can win. They don’t ever panic. These kids haven’t done that. You come into a game like this, everyone thinks your supposed to to win … they’re playing their hearts out there. It’s their last game. I thought our kids hung in there real good,” said Rockledge coach Larry Laskowski.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Rockledge visits Cocoa in the annual Barbecue Bowl. Space Coast’s season is over.
RECORDS: Rockledge is 7-2 overall, 4-1 in Class 5A, District 13. Space Coast is 1-9, 0-5.