Cocoa 36, Jones 30
In Cocoa, Cocoa High head coach John Wilkinson knew going into his team’s second-round playoff game against Jones High from Orlando that it wouldn’t be easy despite handing them the District 5 runner-up its lone defeat earlier in the season. He was right, but Cocoa was able to hold on for the win.
Jones was able to take charge first when a 24-yard pass from Quadry Jones to Vincent Thomas put the Tigers up 6-0 over the home team.
Cocoa, also the Tigers, found its stride in the second quarter. Lasedrick King took the ball in 14 yards for a score with the extra point putting the home team up by a point. An interception by Qunelius Phillips in the second quarter set up Cocoa for a 48-yard drive with a Bruce Judson TD that gave Cocoa the one-touchdown lead it maintained for the rest of the game.
In the third quarter, both teams had back-to-back big plays for touchdowns. Cocoa’s Javian Hawkins was able to break free for a 75-yard sprint into the end zone with seconds left. But when Cocoa kicked the ball off after the score, Austin Perry answered with a 70-yard return to score.
Both teams used the 2-point to try to put themselves in winning position. Jones used it three times to keep the margin narrow, and Cocoa used it once to keep pace.
“I just think back historically. To win 10 region championships in a row is just a credit to these kids and how hard they fight,” Wilkinson said.
Next week Cocoa faces Booker T. Washington at home. The Miami team has beaten Cocoa each of the past five years in the state semifinals.
“They’re the champ. You gotta knock the champ off,” Wilkinson said. “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
– Tyler Vazquez, FLORIDA TODAY
Bishop Moore 21, Palm Bay 14
In Melbourne, Palm Bay held Bishop Moore scoreless for three quarters, but it was the other one that made the difference.
The Hornets, the defending Class 5A champions, built a three-touchdown lead in the first quarter and held on for a one-score regional semifinal win, ending the perfect season for the Pirates, who finished 10-1.
Three key moments made the difference — a turnover and two penalties. Palm Bay was driving near the Hornets’ (11-1) red zone when a stripped ball was returned 77 yards for a touchdown by Caleb McMillian.
Though that only put Palm Bay behind 7-0, it seemed to turn the momentum. Minutes later, a 76-yard pass from Bishop Moore’s Connor Schietzach to Joe Wallace led to a 9-yard Trilion Coles touchdown.
Coles finished with 119 yards and added a 19-yarder before the opening period ended.
After halftime, the Pirates shut him down until the final clock-killing drive of the game. On his first five carries of the second half, he gained just 2 yards, but he broke a 19-yarder in the final minutes to keep Palm Bay from a last chance at tying the game or going ahead.
For Palm Bay, Ken McKay caught five passes for 50 yards and rushed for 50 more. His 26-yard catch-and-run from Stuart Brown brought the home team within a touchdown of the defending champions, who had eliminated the Pirates last year in Orlando, 38-7, in the regional quarterfinal.
A run by McKay that didn’t count was critical, as he scored on Palm Bay’s first possession of the game, but a penalty wiped out the play.
Brown passed for 176 yards, including six passes to Dez Arthur for 83 yards. Again, one that didn’t count slowed the Palm Bay comeback. A 57-yarder to Arthur that he took to the end zone was called back by a penalty in the fourth.
Bishop Moore advanced to face Plantation American Heritage in next week’s regional final.
– Brian McCallum, FLORIDA TODAY
Viera 53, Martin County 45
In Viera, it looked like it was going to be a blowout.
It turned into an instant classic.
The Viera High Hawks raced out to a 40-7 halftime lead in their Class 7A regional semifinal, only to see Martin County come charging with a miraculous comeback that had the Hawks and their fans on edge.
With Martin County trailing by eight and on the Hawks’ 14-yard line, Viera defensive end Marco Foreman sacked Tigers quarterback Austin Kuyrkendall, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Miguel Rodriguez with 1:29 remaining in the game.
That preserved a Viera victory that will send the Hawks to the regional final for the second year in a row.
Viera (9-2) will travel to Tampa to play Plant (11-0), which scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to rally past Lakeland 25-21 in the other regional semifinal.
It was quite a night at Hawk Stadium as Viera quarterback Tim DeMorat threw for 527 yards and five touchdowns while Martin County’s Kuyrkendall threw for 445 and four scores.
“The first two quarters, we played almost perfect,” DeMorat said. “And then we just let them come back in the game. I don’t know how many fumbles we had. We turned the ball over way too many times.
“We got the win, but we’ve definitely got to come back Monday and get back to work.”
Viera fumbled the ball six times, losing four of them. One of the fumbles came at the Martin County 1-yard line. The other came late in the fourth quarter at the Tigers’ 16-yard line with the Hawks driving and trying to run out the clock.
But as much trouble as the Hawks had hanging onto the ball, Martin County just simply never stopped coming.
DeMorat had touchdown throws of 14 yards to Keith Freeman, 44 yards to Quinton Richard and throws of 25 and 80 yards to Mike Vega – all in the first half. Throw in a safety courtesy of a Jaylin Wilson sack of Kuyrkendall and the Hawks appeared to be in complete control.
Martin County’s lone touchdown came when Roderick Harris scooped up a Viera fumble and went 63 yards for the score.
But wow was the second half a different story.
The Tigers came back with a vengeance and with each score, kept creeping closer and building momentum.
Viera needed a big play in a big way and appeared to get it when Freeman turned a third-down screen pass into a 64-yard touchdown play to put the Hawks up 53-38. But once again, Martin County answered with a touchdown and then got the ball back one last time with a chance to tie it with another touchdown and a two-point conversion.
That is until Foreman’s big play saved the day and the Hawks survived while also learning a valuable lesson.
“We beat them very badly in the first and second quarter,” Foreman said. “We had halftime, no one said much, pretty low energy and I knew we were becoming way too complacent.
“You can’t be complacent when it’s do or die. They had the most courage I’ve seen out of anybody in my life. That really gives you an inside look on what you need to do as a playoff team.”
– Carl Kotala, for FLORIDA TODAY
Melbourne Central Catholic 69, Clearwater Central Catholic 62, 9 OT
In Melbourne, it was a heavyweight battle of epic proportions and in the ninth and final overtime period, Melbourne Central Catholic had earned its first ever Class 3A Regional title in a dramatic, nail-biting thriller.
It was a game for the ages and most of the rabid fans who witnessed the back-and-forth contest probably felt they had aged quite a bit by the end. But it was worth the wait for the undefeated Hustlers (11-0), who advance to host Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood) Friday in the state semifinals.
MCC is one step closer to the Class 3A State Championship that will be held at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. – but it certainly wasn’t easy.
State runner-up in 2013, the Marauders were going for their fifth consecutive regional championship. Much like the Hustlers, Clearwater Central Catholic (9-2) had an explosive offense that averaged more than 40 points per game, so a shootout was expected. But the contest was deadlocked at 21-21 after regulation, which served as a prelude to what would come in the overtime periods.
In the final overtime period, Hustler quarterback Joaquin Collazo scored his third short touchdown run – and second overtime TD – for the decisive points. But in the ensuing series, the Marauders’ talented dual threat, C.J. Cotman, was stopped one yard short of the goal line on fourth down. Cotman has verbally committed to Tennessee.
The defensive stop by the Hustlers led to bedlam on the field and in the bleachers as the marathon contest came to a dramatic conclusion.
In addition to Collazo’s heroics, a quartet of MCC standouts scored during the overtime periods: Running back Jovan Simon contributed a trio of touchdown runs while Lorenzo Hardy and Bryce Fielding had one apiece.
“When the defense didn’t get it done, the offense did; when the offense didn’t get it done, the defense picked us up,” said first-year head coach Stacy Sizemore. “We came together tonight, we got a W and we lived to play another week.”
– John Janokaitis, for FLORIDA TODAY