MERRITT ISLAND — Fresh off an emotional victory last week against rival Palm Bay to secure the Class 5A, District 14 title, it wasn’t surprising that Merritt Island came out a little flat against district foe Rockledge on Friday night at the O-Dome.
But that’s exactly what they did in the opening quarter before quarterback Jimmy Batch took over, rushing for a game-high 122 yards and three touchdowns, including a 60-yard TD, to lead Merritt Island to a 23-11 victory.
“We came out a little sluggish, but we knew what we had to do,” Batch said. “We came together as a team at halftime and put together a win.”
Despite the listless start, the Mustangs (7-2 overall, 5-0 in district) were not about to let the Raiders ruin a storybook 50th season as they recorded their sixth straight victory and completed their fifth consecutive undefeated district season.
Batch, a junior, also passed for 82 yards to reach 1,058 yards for the season. His favorite targets were wide receiver Luke Clark, who hauled in two catches for 55 yards, and flanker Deben Peterson with four receptions for 27 yards.
Merritt Island placekicker Mason Denaburg added a booming 48-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Raiders got on the scoreboard with a 35-yard field goal from placekicker Justin Johnson with 8:49 remaining in the first half. Rockledge’s scoring drive was aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Mustangs on fourth down.
The Raiders (4-5 overall, 1-4 in district) also scored the final points in the contest when quarterback Jaquez Lyons connected with wide receiver Jonathan Floyd on a 20-yard TD toss with 43 seconds remaining. The senior Lyons passed for 140 yards and added 114 yards rushing. Running back Jalen Mitchell rushed for 89 yards.
“This feels great,” Batch said. “I love my team, my teammates did great, and we played a great Rockledge team and came out with a win.”
In a series dating back to 1970, Merritt Island leads 17-13, including eight consecutive victories.
The Raiders complete their season Friday versus cross-town rival Cocoa while the Mustangs close out their regular season at Sanford Seminole. Merritt Island will host the District 13 runner up Friday, Nov. 14 in the regional quarterfinals.
Merritt Island 23, Rockledge 11
Rockledge 0 3 0 8 — 11
Merritt Island 0 13 3 7 — 23
HOW THEY SCORED
R — Justin Johnson 35 Field Goal, 8:49.
MI — Jimmy Batch 29 run (Mason Denaburg kick) 4:58.
MI — Batch 14 run (pass failed) 1:06.
MI — Denaburg 48 Field Goal, 7:00.
MI — Batch 60 (Denaburg kick) 1:31.
R — Jonathan Floyd 20 pass from Jaquez Lyons (Jalen Mitchell pass from Lyons) :43.
Rushing: R — Jalen Mitchell 18-89, Dante Benjamin 1-(-3), Jaquez Lyons 9-114, Orlando Oquendo 2-5, Jonathan Floyd 1-7; MI — Deben Peterson 9-39, Taquan Pratt 9-29, Jimmy Batch 8-122, Rydell Peterson 5-21. Passing: R — Lyons 10-27-2, 140 yards, Joseph Smith 0-1-0; MI — Jimmy Batch 6-14-0, 82 yards. Receiving: R — Rantravious Lovett 3-47, Adreal Johnson 3-34, Floyd 3-36, Jesson Walker 1-22; MI — Luke Clark 2-55, Petersen 4-27.
Records: Rockledge (4-5 overall, 1-4 in Class 5A, District 14); Merritt Island (7-2 overall, 5-0 in Class 5A, District 14).