MERRITT ISLAND –
Merritt Island High’s Ashton Taylor picks up some nice yards during Thursday night’s Homecoming game against Titusville High School. Merritt Island won 22-7.
Merritt Island kept itself in first place in the Class 5A, District 12 high school football race Thursday, setting up a showdown at Palm Bay next week.
The Mustangs knocked off ninth-ranked Titusville 22-7 on a night when their defense held the Terriers to 125 yards.
“We had two weeks to prepare, and we didn’t have a bad day of practice,” linebacker Tray Smith said after his team held Jaleel Davis to 29 yards.
Merritt Island improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the district.
Titusville (4-2 overall) dropped to 2-1 in district play, tied with Associated Press No. 7 Palm Bay (5-1 overall) in second place. The Pirates host the Mustangs a week from today.
Tonight, four games will be played in Brevard County, all beginning at 7. Four other schools will play out of the area.
Thursday’s output of one touchdown was the lowest offensive output by the Terriers this season. Titusville’s score came on a 45-yard Jacob Farris run off a Yusuf DeReese shovel pass.
On this night, it was the Merritt Island offense that showed more variety. Kyle Coleman completed passes to four receivers, had a 17-yard run himself while running a good bit of option and opened up the field with a 43-yard pass to Sam Vrinios on the first drive.
“We actually changed our offense tonight,” Coleman said. “We just had the intention of running the ball down their throats.”
Keegan Henderson, who has also played at quarterback this season, took a pitch 12 yards for the Mustangs’ first score, and Tucker Bennett caught a 25-yarder from Coleman for a third-quarter touchdown and a 16-7 Merritt Island lead.
Dylan Barnas kicked field goals of 39 and 32 yards for the balance of scoring.
After DeReese runs of 8 and 9 yards on the Terriers’ first drive, Merritt Island shut that down, and both Chris Matthias and Quentin Ashley made interceptions for the home team. Meanwhile, Titusville twice took possession on the Mustangs’ side of the field only to go nowhere.
The Mustangs broke an early 7-7 tie when Chris Hannom tackled DeReese in the end zone.
Palm Bay cruises
The Palm Bay Pirates moved into a second-place tie in the district with a 35-0 rout of Astronaut. Page 3C.