From its very first series Friday at Sam Sirianni Field at Edison Stadium, Fort Myers pressed on the gas pedal against Dunbar, using a quick 63 second scoring drive to open up a game that was out of reach by the next seven minutes.
But truth be told, it wasn’t the Green Wave offense that did in the Tigers.
Instead, this dominating 31-0 win was capped by a tremendous defensive performance. By game’s end, the Green Wave (8-2) had tallied two safeties, one special team’s touchdown and two interceptions, had allowed just 22 yards of offense and limited the typically potent Tigers rushing attack to minus-21 rushing yards.
“I have great faith in them,” Fort Myers head coach Sam Sirianni Jr. said. “We theoretically shut out South (Fort Myers) other than a kick return (weeks ago). We’ve played well in spurts. But this defensive football team was our rock tonight.”
The Green Wave, which won the Lee County Athletic Conference outright with the win, move on to face District 6A-12 runner-up Palmetto Ridge next Friday at home in the first round of the Region 6A-3 playoffs. Dunbar (7-2), the winner out of 5A-12, will host Bradenton Southeast.
Fort Myers junior running back Darrian Felix had 145 yards rushing and a touchdown, sophomore fullback Xavier Perez added 77 more and a score, and senior receiver Bensley Bornelus capped off the fourth quarter with a 28-yard reception from quarterback Edwitch Merisier.
The Green Wave strung together 249 yards on the ground and 55 in the air. Offensively, they scored on just two drives in the first half, which Sirianni admitted was concerning heading into next week’s playoff game.
But defensively he was impressed. Junior Ben Stobaugh had two interceptions and the team’s interior defense constantly pressured Dunbar quarterback Jairus Johnson into a 3-for-15 night.
The Green Wave rushed out to a 7-0 lead following an opening drive that took just four plays and 60 yards. Felix capped off the series with a 14-yard scamper.
But it was a muffed punt return from Dunbar’s Eric Minns just two possessions later that broke open the door. The senior took the punt at the 5-yard-line and tried to outrun the Green Wave defense, only to be smothered in the end zone by Sanley Castor.
On their very next possession, the Tigers’ Kenny Benjamin tried to skirt out of the end zone following a botched snap and found himself tackled. Then, on its very next possession following a Fort Myers punt, the Tigers did it again.
Johnson, who finished with minus-38 yards on the ground, was grabbed in the end zone for a second straight safety.
It pushed the Green Wave’s lead to 18-0 with a little over eight minutes off the clock. But it didn’t help that Abraham Alce couldn’t get things going, either. He entered the game with four straight 100-yard outings.
He finished with just 17 yards on 16 carries.
“We were shooting the gaps well,” Fort Myers linebacker Jake O’Rourke said. “And we were rallying to the ball trying to tackle that big running back.”
Dunbar had its first positive yards from scrimmage with 8:04 left in the second quarter and completed its first pass with 33 seconds left in the second quarter for 36 yards.
“I wouldn’t say we were lead-footed,” said Dunbar coach Phil Vogt, whose team gave up a 26-yard reverse to Felix on the second play of the game. “Maybe we were just overcranked or whatever.
“We just got outplayed in the first half in all three facets of the game.”
Dunbar 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | FINAL 0
Fort Myers 18 | 7 | 0 | 6 | FINAL 31
FM: Darrian Felix 14 run (Jeff St. Louis kick)
FM: Sanley Castor fumble recovery in end zone (St. Louis kick)
FM: Xavier Perez 5 run (St. Louis kick)
FM: Bensley Bornelus 28 pass from Edwitch Merisier (kick failed)