The Eau Gallie High Commodores are working hard to change the culture around their football program. Friday night was a big step.
Daniel Kroupa returned an interception for a touchdown and caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Torrance Brown to help Eau Gallie defeat visiting Viera High 21-13 in the season opener for both teams.
Jordan Benton added a 16-yard touchdown run for Eau Gallie, which broke a 7-7 tie with a pair of third quarter touchdowns.
Viera went with Cody Dentmon at quarterback and that move paid off with a couple of TD runs.
But with Viera trailing by eight with roughly 7 minutes to play, a 43-yard touchdown run by Dentmon was called back because of an illegal procedure penalty.
The Hawks eventually moved the ball to the Eau Gallie 26, but another penalty pushed them back and Eau Gallie’s defense held on.
It was a big win for Eau Gallie, which went 1-9 last season.
* KEY PLAYERS: Kroupa returned an interception 16 yards for a score. He also had an 8-yard TD reception. Benton ran 18 times for 124 yards. Eau Gallie also got solid defensive play from linebacker Lance White. For Viera, Dentmon rushed 17 times for 92 yards and scored on runs of six and 10 yards. Jalen Jackson carried 18 times for 87 yards.
* THEY SAID IT: “I saw a lot of improvement tonight, but we’re still making too many mistakes to finish the game.” — Viera coach Kevin Mays
“(The key was) just being relentless and not giving up. It was ugly at times, but we stayed in there and we fought.” — Eau Gallie coach Tim Powers
* WHAT’S NEXT: Viera plays at home against Cocoa Beach; Eau Gallie visits Jensen Beach. Both games are Friday night.
ORDS: Viera 0-1; Eau Gallie 1-0.