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 33-point halftime lead in their Class 7A regional semifinal against Martin County on Friday night, only to see the Tigers come charging with a furious 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 53-45 Viera victory that sent 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 Hawks 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.
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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 the second half was 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.”
Rematches highlight second week of playoffs
VIERA 53, MARTIN COUNTY 45
Martin County 0 7 28 10 – 45
Viera 14 26 6 7 – 53
HOW THEY SCORED
V: Keith Freeman 14 pass from Timothy DeMorat (Trey Schaneville kick), 9:07
V: Keith Freeman 3 run (Trey Schaneville kick), 7:30
V: Quinton Richards 44 pass from Timothy DeMorat (Trey Schaneville kick), 10:41
V: Trey Schaneville 20 FG, 8:32
V: Mike Vega 39 pass from Timothy DeMorat (Trey Schaneville kick), 4:08
V: Safety (Austin Kuyrkendall sacked in end zone), 2:28
M: Roderick Harris 70 fumble return (Sawyer Reese kick), 1:05
V: Mike Vega 80 pass from Timothy DeMorat (Trey Schaneville kick), :48.7
MC: Marcus Coleman 50 pass from Austin Kuyrkendall (Sawyer Reese kick), 9:38
V: Trey Schaneville 20 FG, 6:23
MC: George Johnson 80 pass from Austin Kuyrkendall (Sawyer Reese kick), 6:09
MC: Marcus Coleman 55 interception return (Sawyer Reese kick), 5:27
V: Trey Schaneville 30 FG, 2:09
MC: George Johnson 30 pass from Austin Kuyrkendall (Sawyer Reese kick), :13.4
MC: Sawyer Reese 37 FG, 8:30
V: Keith Freeman 64 pass from Timothy DeMorat (Trey Schaneville kick), 7:35
MC:: George Johnson 22 pass from Austin Kuyrkendall (Sawyer Reese kick), 5:17
High school sports | floridatoday.com/sports/high-school-sports/