Astronaut’s follow-up to its first winning season since 2011 did not get off to a good start Friday evening.
Capitalizing on several key mistakes and missed opportunities, the New Smyrna Beach Barracudas were able to upset the War Hawks 20-6 on their own field in both teams’ regular season opener.
“We were our own worst enemy tonight,” Astronaut head coach Randy Hallock said. “I’ll take the blame. We just didn’t have our kids ready.”
The Barracudas looked dead in the water after gaining no yards on their first three plays from scrimmage, but a successful fake punt pass followed by a 55-yard catch and run by Daylen Wood on third down would keep the opening drive of the game alive for the visiting team.
New Smyrna Beach’s refusal to give up the ball paid off, with TJ Goodknecht finding Logan Selman in the back of the end zone to give the Barracudas a 6-0 lead following a missed two-point try.
It seemed as though Astronaut would soon tie the game up when senior defensive back Quantay Byrom scooped up a fumble deep in opposing territory, however the War Eagles were also unable to hang on to the football, coughing it up inside the Barracuda 10 yard-line.
New Smyrna did not hesitate to take advantage of the home team’s mistake, increasing its lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Williams to Einaj Carter later in the second quarter to put the War Eagles down 14-0 heading into halftime.
“We made too many mistakes,” Hallock said. “We got some drives going offensively and then we would stall. You can’t turn the ball over as much as we did.”
Astronaut got not one but two chances to redeem themselves on New Smyrna’s side of the field in the third quarter, but the War Hawks were unable to convert on both trips, turning the ball over on downs and then being forced to punt following a personal foul.
Astronaut was finally able to find the end zone late in the fourth quarter when a 49-yard run by Kamauri Johnson set up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Susie to Cameron Ockerman, giving the War Eagles a little hope with 3:46 left in the game.
Instead, a 49-yard run by New Smyrna’s Colton Busse immediately set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Butler, giving the Barracudas a 20-6 lead and sealing the victory.
“I like the group we’ve got,” Hallock said before walking off the field, “we just have to keep coaching them up and getting better.”
Top performers: New Smyrna Beach: TJ Goodknecht 10 of 25, 167 yards, TD; Astronaut: Dominick Robinson, 14 carries, 66 yards.
Key play: A 49-yard run by New Smyrna’s Colton Busse sets up a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Butler, giving the Barracudas a 20-6 lead with 2:15 left in the game and ending any hope for an Astronaut comeback.
Record: New Smyrna Beach (1-0); Astronaut (0-1)
Next week: University at New Smyrna Beach, 7 p.m.; Astronaut at Eau Gallie, 7 p.m.
New Smyrna Beach 20, Astronaut 6
NSB 6 8 0 6 – 20
Astro 0 0 0 6 – 6
HOW THEY SCORED
NSB: Logan Selman 10 pass from TJ Goodknecht (2pt run no good); 3:09
NSB: Isaiah Green 25 pass from Anthony Williams (Jonah Paulsgrove 2pt run); 6:50
A: Cameron Ockerman 6 pass from Trevor Susie (kick no good); 3:46
NSB: Anthony Butler 2 run (kick no good); 2:15
Rushing: NSB – Daylen Wood 6-16, Colton Busse 5-13, Anthony Butler 2-2, TD. A – Kamauri Johnson 10-83, Dominick Robinson 14-66, Josh Rodriquez 1-14, Chace Gadapee 2-10, Cameron Ockerman 2-3.
Passing: NSB — TJ Goodknecht 10-25-0, 167 yards, TD, Anthony Butler 3-4-0, 47 yards, TD. A – Chace Gadapee 11-20-0, 59 yards, Trevor Susie 2-2-0, 13 yards, TD.
Receiving: NSB – Einaj Carter 4-94, TD, Daylen Wood 3-66, Isaiah Green 3-27, Logan Selman 1-10, TD, Anthony Butler 1-11, Zazion Hudson 1-6, Dalton Belanger 1-6. A – Cameron Ockerman 5-27, TD, Cory Sides 3-19, Dylan Grimes 2-11, Dominick Robinson 2-10, Terrell Watkins 1-5.
David Barkholz, for FLORIDA TODAY