COCOA — With the football resting on the Viera High 6-yard line and less than 30 seconds left in a tie game, Cocoa High quarterback Bruce Judson came to the sidelines to talk to Tigers coach John Wilkinson.
He had a request.
“He said, ‘give me the ball,’ ” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘Sounds good to me.’ ”
And so it was that Judson powered his way into the end zone with 14 seconds left to give Cocoa a 49-42 victory over visiting Viera in an emotionally-charged game that was certainly fun to watch.
Tied at 14-14 at the half, Cocoa opened up a 21-point lead in the third quarter only to have Viera come storming back. Hayden Kingston threw five touchdown passes on the night — four of them to Tre Nixon — for the Hawks.
But it was Kingston’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Malek Folston with 2:45 left to play that tied the game at 42-42.
Cocoa, which had three touchdown runs by Timmy Pratt and a pair of scores from Judson — a 92-yard run and a 46-yard pass to Zack Armour — got the ball on its own 43-yard line with 2:44 to play.
“I came into the huddle and I was like, ‘Get on my back and I’m going to take you down to the end zone,’ ” Judson said. “That was a state championship drive right there.”
Judson finished with 214 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries while Pratt had 141 yards on 29 attempts and scored on runs of 5, 2 and 17 yards. Chauncey Gardner scored on an 84-yard punt return.
For Viera, Kingston finished the game 17 of 29 for 224 yards with the five TDs and no interceptions. Nixon caught passes of 24, 45, 18 and 16 yards on the night. All went for touchdowns. Trevor Merritt added a 15-yard touchdown run.
“I’m as proud of my team as I’ve probably ever been,” Viera coach Kevin Mays said. “Cocoa had a strong surge and our guys fought right back. We took a punch and we punched back. We came up on the short end at the end.”
Viera’s effort was not lost on Wilkinson, either.
In fact, the Cocoa coach stepped into the Hawks’ postgame huddle to deliver a message to Viera’s players.
“I just wanted to tell their team that (the first time) we played them, it was 70-6, and how far they’ve come in seven years and what a great job their coaching staff does and how hard their kids play,” Wilkinson said. “That’s a tribute to them and their coaching staff. I just wanted to let them know that.”
Cocoa 49, Viera 42
Viera 7 7 14 14 — 42
Cocoa 7 7 28 7 — 28
HOW THEY SCORED
C — Zack Armour 46 pass from Bruce Judson (Alex Petruzello kick) 8:24.
V — Tre Nixon 24 pass from Hayden Kingston (Tre Schaneville kick) 4:38.
V — Nixon 45 pass from Hayden Kingston (Tre Schaneville kick) 11:45.
C — Timmy Pratt 5 run (Petruzello kick) 7:36.
C — Chauncey Gardner 84 punt return (Petruzello kick) 11:07.
C — Judson 92 run (Petruzello kick) 8:36.
V — Nixon 18 pass from Kingston (Schaneville kick) 6:39.
C — Pratt 2 run (Petruzello kick) 4:21.
C—Pratt 2 run (Petruzello kick) 3:04.
V — Nixon 16 pass from Kingston (Schaneville kick) :51.
V — Trevor Merritt 15 run (Schaneville kick) 8:32.
V — Malek Folston 23 pass from Kingston (Schaneville kick) 2:45.
C — Judson 6 run (Petruzello kick).
Rushing: V — Trevor Merritt 3-25, Brennen Deplancke 8-16, Hayden Kingston 7-13, Zack Blanch 1-3. C—Bruce Judson 19-214, Timmy Pratt 29-141, Howard Stewart 2-8, Javon Spencer 1-4. Passing: V — Kingston 17-29-5-0, 224 yards. C — Judson 2-7-0-1, 65 yards. Receiving: V — Jamyson Boyd 6-45, Tre Nixon 4-103, Donovan Jackson 2-14, Malek Folston 1-23, Trevor Merritt 1-17, Alex Cabrera 1-16, Quinton Richard 1-6, Deplancke 1-2. C—Zack Armour 2-65.
RECORDS: Viera 2-3, Cocoa 4-1.