ROCKLEDGE — Go for the win or the tie?
That was the question the Space Coast Vipers faced as they lined up in overtime against Rockledge on Friday night.
The Vipers chose to go for the win … and they got it.
“I believe in my guys that we’re gonna get two yards,” said head coach Jake Owens. “It wasn’t really even a question.”
The thrilling 29-28 victory capped a 14-point second half comeback for the young Vipers, who improve to 1-1 in Class 5A, District 14 play.
It was a devastating loss for Rockledge, whose playoff hopes are all but dashed with an 0-2 district record.
The Raiders led 21-14 late in the fourth quarter with the ball, and seemed to be in control, but a fumble on first down near midfield gave the Vipers another chance.
And Space Coast converted that chance when sophomore quarterback Bradley Cantrell found standout receiver Jason Browning for a 14-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes left to tie the game at 21.
Rockledge scored a touchdown on its first possession of overtime, but Space Coast quickly answered on Corn Fulton’s two-yard run. The Vipers initially lined up for an extra point attempt, but Rockledge jumped offside, and Space Coast decided to go for the win.
On that game-deciding play, Fulton took the handoff, bounced outside and stretched over the goal line for the conversion and the win.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Cantrell, a sophomore. “I’ve never seen so much fight in our eyes.”
Rockledge took an early lead in the second quarter when lineman Xavier Curry made an incredible defensive play, stripping the ball from a Space Coast rusher and racing 70 yards for the score.
The Vipers answered back on their ensuing drive when Cantrell found Browning on a 20-yard jump ball touchdown catch to tie the game at 7.
Then, with just five seconds left in the half, Rockledge quarterback Jaquez Lyons found a wide-open Rantravious Lovett for a 19-yard touchdown pass, and the Raiders led 14-7 at the half.
Lyons added another score — this time a beautiful 31-yard run on Rockledge’s first drive of the second half — and his team led 21-7.
But the Vipers — who start eight sophomores — somehow managed to come back and get the improbable win.
“This win is up there at the top of the list,” Owens said. “And I’ve been here for 12 years.”
Space Coast 29,Rockledge 27
Space Coast 0 7 7 7 8 — 29
Rockledge 7 7 7 0 6 — 27
HOW THEY SCORED
R — Xavier Curry 70 fumble return (Justin Johnson kick) 5:40.
SC — Jason Browning 20 pass from Bradley Cantrell (Gage Ferguson kick) 2:42.
R — Rantravious Lovett 19 pass Jaques Lyons (Johnson kick) 0:05.
R — Lyons 31 run (Johnson kick) 7:12..
SC — Nathan Camick 10 run (Gage Ferguson kick) 0:45.
SC — Jason Browning 14 pass from Bradley Cantrell (Gage Ferguson kick) 1:59.
R — Rantravious Lovett 3 pass Jaques Lyons (Johnson kick).
SC – Fulton 2 run (Fulton run).
Rushing: SC — Corn Fulton 29-127, Gabriel Perez 4-11, Bradley Cantrell 2-(-4), Nathan Camick 1-10; R — Jaques Lyons 10-98, Keith Freeman 13-37, Jalen Mitchell 5-33. Passing: SC — Cantrell 16–0-29, 158 yards; R — Lyons 5-2-14, 46 yards. Receiving: SC — Jason Browning 8-69, Conner Perrine 6-73, Fulton 4-16; R — Adreal Johnson 1-22, Kieran Goodrich 1-10, Jonathan Floyd 1-9, Mitchell 1-3, Freeman 1-2.
Records: Space Coast (3-1 overall, 1-1 in Class 5A, District 14), Rockledge (2-3 overall, 0-2 in Class 5A, District 14).