Once North Fort Myers quarterbacks Jared Rusnak and J’Ravien Andersen got it going, Mariner was in for a long night.
In the Red Knights’ 48-14 victory, Andersen (7-of-10, 196 yards) and Rusnak (14-of-19, 136 yards) combined for 332 yards.
“That’s crazy,” Rusnak said while Andersen added, “Unbelievable.”
Rusnak said the quarterbacks and receivers put in an extra 30 minutes after practice working on routes to build chemistry. “All day, every day,” Andersen added.
The numbers also caught coach Earnest Graham’s attention.
“Really, wow, I knew we’ve been really training these guys,” he said. “We’ve gotta make plays downfield. These two senior quarterbacks put in a lot of work and it’s showing up in the games.”
Mariner (2-3) took a 7-0 lead but North Fort Myers (2-3) scored 48 of the next 55 points.
Wide receiver Brandon King’s one-handed, 76-yard touchdown catch with just 22 seconds left in the first half gave North a 20-7 lead and the rout was on. King finished with four catches for 145 yards.
“I just had to make plays, step up, take on a leadership role and help drive the bus for the receivers,” said King, who remembers little of his catch. “Just tried to work hard, get in the end zone and put points on the board.”
North Fort Myers, which gave up 44 points last week to Island Coast, got lit up in the first 1:32 of the game when Mariner wide receiver Jahmel Myers took a slant pass from quarterback Cairo Jeunegens and sped away from Red Knights defenders on a 65-yard play.
After that, North Fort Myers’ defense stiffened. It stopped Mariner at its 10, then blocked a field goal. The Red Knights also stopped the Tritons on downs after it drove to the 5.
Meanwhile, North’s offense warmed up.
After leading his team on a 14-play, 71-yard drive, quarterback Jared Rusnak scored on a 1-yard sneak.
Austin Watkins then put his team up 13-7 when he caught a pass and shook off a Mariner defender to complete a 10-yard pass play from Rusnak.
King’s highlight-reel play provided the back breaker just before the end of the half.
MARINER 7 | 0 | 7 | 0 | FINAL 14
NORTH FORT MYERS 7 | 13 | 7 | 21 | FINAL 48
M: Jahmel Myers 65 pass from Cairo Jeunegens (Noah Wren kick)
NFM: Jared Rusnak 1 run (Ethan Bennett kick)
NFM: Austin Watkins 10 pass from Rusnak (kick failed)
NFM: Brandon King 76 pass from J Ravien Andersen (Bennett kick)
NFM: Andersen 7 run (Bennett kick)
M: Chance Reiter 44 run (Wren kick)
NFM: Andersen 10 run (Bennett kick)
NFM: Lucious Stanley 55 fumble return (Bennett kick)
NFM: Hunter Andrews 14 interception return (Bennett kick)