When Robert Brown got loose, Barron Collier was lost.
Brown, South Fort Myers’ scintillating senior tailback, ripped off third-quarter touchdown runs of 65 and 55 yards to break open a competitive game and the Wolfpack went on to a 27-0 victory Friday night in a Region 6A-3 quarterfinal at Wolfpack Stadium, setting up a showdown with Naples.
With the District 6A-11 champion Wolfpack (10-1) leading 14-0, Brown went 65 yards on the first play of the second half, then dashed 55 yards untouched down the right sideline with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
That was lights out for the Cougars (7-4), the District 6A-12 runner-up. They aren’t built to come back from large deficits. Not only do they run the time-consuming triple option, but they lost starting quarterback Carson Klahm to a torn labrum two weeks ago. South Fort Myers could have replaced celebrated safety Jayron Kearse with Wolfie, their furry mascot in the 00 jersey, and still scored the shutout.
“No chance of them coming back,” said Brown, who had 154 yards on nine carries. “Our defense played one heck of a game from start to end. Our defense just got better and better.”
Brown wasn’t the only factor in breaking this game open. Wolfpack coach Grant Redhead rocked the Cougars with a bit of riverboat-gambler play-calling.
On fourth-and-4 from their own 32-yard line and three minutes left in the first half, the Wolfpack short-snapped the ball to Antwan Dixon while punter Conner Kammerlocher pretended the ball went over his head. Dixon lofted a pass to Eric Wester, who rumbled to the Barron Collier 45. Seven plays later, D’Ronzijah Matthews scored from the 11 to make it 14-0.
“That’s one of the best plays in football,” Redhead said. “It just felt right. We were in the area of the field where I was comfortable.”
Brown and the Wolfpack defense took it from there. They held the Cougars to just 142 total yards, all on the ground, and only 26 yards and no first downs in the second half.
“They’re a power-running football team,” Redhead said. “They were a good team for us to play. Naples runs the option too. Different formations, similar plays.”
The Wolfpack remember last year’s 49-13 loss to Naples in the district quarterfinals. It’s a bitter memory they want to release.
“They blew us off the ball,” Brown said. “This year is going to be a little different.”
SFM: Jayron Kearse 40 run (Conner Kammerlocher kick)
SFM: D’Ronzijah Matthews 11 run (Kammerlocher kick)
SFM: Robert Brown 65 run (kick failed)
SFM: Brown 55 run (Kammerlocher kick)