MELBOURNE — When you have an offensive line that has been blocking as well as Palm Bay’s front five has this season, it’s pretty easy to understand why Pirate running backs look forward to each and every carry.
“The O-line gives us a lot of confidence out there,” Palm Bay senior fullback Jared Morris said. “They’re working their butts off every single play.”
That was certainly evident Thursday night as the Pirates ran for 448 yards, and Morris and Brian Lankford-Johnson each had three rushing touchdowns in a 49-14 Palm Bay win over visiting Space Coast in a Class 5A, District 14 matchup.
Lankford-Johnson finished with 192 yards on 11 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 69, 49 and 28 yards. He also caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Stuart Brown.
Morris, meanwhile, had 154 yards on 11 carries and found the end zone on carries of 42, 3 and 59 yards.
Palm Bay’s offensive line, which consists of senior Brandon Taylor, junior Mitchell Cook, senior TJ Carroll, senior Jacob Howell and Kimoy McIntyre – with help from senior tight end Shamar Davis – provided the room to run all night long.
“They’re a great group,” Pirates coach Dan Burke said. “Those guys get it done. They work hard, too. Two of them – Mitchell and Brandon – play both ways.
That’s tough for the bigger guys to do that.”
Space Coast (4-2, 1-2) got a 2-yard touchdown run from Corn Fulton following an interception by Austin Crosby that was returned 35 yards. The Vipers’ first score came on a 70-yard TD pass from Bradley Cantrell to Jason Browning, where the latter did a nice job of going up for the pass along the sideline, then outrunning the Palm Bay defense to the end zone.
Unfortunately for the Vipers, Palm Bay’s big plays and their own mistakes – including a low snap that led to a blocked punt by Davis – put them in a tough spot.
“We didn’t make enough plays,” Space Coast coach Jake Owens said. “This was a team effort. We didn’t really play well in any phase of the game tonight. … We’ve got to fix it and move on. We’ve got a big one again next week (against Satellite).”
Palm Bay (6-1, 3-0), which has now won six in a row, has a big date, too. The Pirates will travel to Merritt Island to face the two-time defending district champions.
The Pirates are hoping to have key defender Twonnie Pollard (knee) back for that game.
Palm Bay 49, Space Coast 14
Space Coast 7 7 0 0 — 14
Palm Bay 19 23 7 0 — 49
HOW THEY SCORED
PB — Jared Morris 42 run (Chase Jessee kick) 5:38.
PB — Brian Lankford-Johnson 69 run (kick failed) 4:12.
SC — Jason Browning 70 pass from Bradley Cantrell (Gage Ferguson kick) 3:47.
PB — Lankford-Johnson 49 run (run failed) 43.5.
PB — Morris 3 run (Lankford-Johnson run) 8:14.
SC — Corn Fulton 2 run (Ferguson kick) 7:00.
PB — Morris 59 run (Lankford-Johnson run) 4:46.
PB — Lankford-Johnson 28 run (Jessee kick) 1:07.
PB — Lankford-Johnson 34 pass from Stuart Brown (Jessee kick) 6:54.
Rushing: SC — Gabriel Perez 5-47, Corn Fulton 10-26, Ryan Sekenski 1-0, Bradley Cantrell 4-(-24); PB — Brian Lankford-Johnson 11-192, Jared Morris 11-154, Desmond Arthur 8-48, Carson White 3-24, Chase Harris 3-23, Tyrese Lyons 2-7. Passing: SC — Cantrell 6-15-0-1, 104 yards, Sekenski 3-7-0-1, 44 yards; PB — Stuart Brown 3-7-1-1, 104 yards. Receiving: SC — Nathan Camick 3-15, Perez 2-42, Connor Perrine 2-19, Jason Browning 1-70, Austin Melchior 1-2; PB — Arthur 1-37, Lankford-Johnson 1-34, Harris 1-33.
Records: Space Coast 4-2 (1-2 Class 5A, District 14), Palm Bay 6-1 (3-0 Class 5A, District 14).