MERRITT ISLAND — Before the game Friday night, Merritt Island head coach Jeff McLean mentioned that every team brings its best game when it shows up to play the Mustangs.
And for the first half, at least, Port St. Lucie was no exception. The Jaguars gave Merritt Island all it could handle for 24 minutes, but ultimately fell short in a 34-7 loss at the O-dome Friday night.
After more than 115 minutes of play without a touchdown, Port St. Lucie surprised the home team with its ability to move the ball through the air and got on the board first with a 10-yard touchdown strike from Sevaun Cooper to his favorite target Jamal Polk. The score capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive that feature two highlight reel grabs from Polk (22 and 10 yards) and one from from Christian Goodwin for 26 yards as he made a leaping grab in tight coverage over Cameron Sorg.
But that play might have been the worst thing that could have happened to the Jaguars.
The Mustangs’ offense responded by scoring 34 unanswered points and the defense gave up just three first downs the rest of the game.
After managing just one first down on its first three drives, the Mustangs finally got something going on its next possession. Deben Peterson, who before the game McLean assured would be an integral part of the offense, got the Mustang offense rolling with an 11-yard touchdown grab from Jimmy Batch after a 45-yard rumble by Raleigh Barfield got the Mustangs in the red zone.
With 38 seconds left in the half, the Mustangs traveled 55 yards on two plays to score on a Batch 26-yard toss to Mason Denaburg with seven seconds left in the half to take the lead for good.
With the Jaguars struggling to find room with the ground attack, the Mustangs knew they would continue throwing and made an adjustment so they wouldn’t get beat in the air.
“They started doing the quick passes, and we didn’t have enough time to get the sack, so when they started doing the quick passes we tried getting our hands up to get some pass blocks and we ended up getting a few there,” said defensive end Peter Demorat who finished with three sacks, two more tackles for loss and one pass deflection.
Taquan Pratt, Barfield and David Dufresne all found the end zone in the second half for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs batted down four passes in the second half and Cooper completed just 3 of 10 passes in the final 24 minutes after going 7-9 in the first half.
Merritt Island hosts Satellite next week.
Merritt Island 34, Port St. Lucie 7
Port St. Lucie 0 7 0 0 — 7
Merritt Island 0 14, 7 13 — 34
HOW THEY SCORED
PSL — Jamal Polk 10 pass from Sevaun Cooper. (kick good), 5:11.
MI — Deben Peterson 11 pass from James Batch (Mason Denaburg kick), 3:31.
MI —Mason Denaburg 26 pass from James Batch. (Mason Denaburg kick) , :07.
MI — Taquaan Pratt 35 run (Mason Denaburg kick, 3:21.
MI — Raleigh Barfield 15 run (Mason Denaburg kick), 10:49.
MI —David Dufresne 26 pass from Mason Denaburg (kick failed), 7:49.
Rushing: PSL — Sevaun Cooper 12-44, Xavier Giles 5-7, Jamal Polk 0-1, Larod Williams 8-(-11); MI — Taquan Pratt 5-63 TD, Raleigh Barfield 9-79 TD, Deben Peterson 2-6, Rydell Peterson 2-54, Jimmy Batch 5-11, Mason Denaburg 1-(-2). Passing: PSL — Cooper 10-19-0, 120, 1 TD; MI — Batch 8-11-0, 154, 2 TDs; Denaburg 1-2-0, 26, TD. Receiving: PSL — Polk 7-88 TD, Giles 2-6, Christian Goodwin 1-26; MI — Deben Peterson 6-116 TD, Rydell Peterson 1-12, Denaburg 1-26 TD, Dufresne 1-26 TD.
Records: Port St. Lucie 0-4, Merritt Island 3-2.