COCOA BEACH — Cocoa Beach’s attempt to begin the season with a two-game winning streak for the first time since 2012 came to an abrupt end as Deltona’s Pine Ridge scored 15 unanswered points in the final quarter for a 35-21 victory against the Minutemen in a non-conference contest Friday night at Minutemen Stadium.
Despite taking a first quarter lead of 3-0 on the first of two long field goals from placekicker Evan Hoke, Cocoa Beach trailed throughout most of the game against the Class 6A Panthers.
The Minutemen rebounded from a 20-6 third quarter deficit with a pair of short touchdown runs for 21-20 lead entering the fourth quarter. Pine Ridge led thanks to Stevon Dennis’ 78-yard kickoff return for a TD and a pair of touchdown catches by speedy wide receiver Robert Walker.
The Minutemen regained the lead when running back David Demeter, who rushed for a game-high 109 yards, scored on a 1-yard TD run and two-point conversion pass from quarterback Mitchell Machock. In their next series, Machock capped off a short drive with a quarterback sneak for a score.
The Panthers mounted their own comeback in the final stanza, as Walker caught his third touchdown reception from quarterback Will Rauseo, which was followed less than a minute later by outside linebacker Devon McGirt’s 14-yard fumble recovery for a final touchdown. Costly penalties, in addition to the last quarter turnover, continued to stymy Cocoa Beach’s offense throughout the contest.
“I mean, there’s no way the score is indicative of what the game was about,” said Cocoa Beach head coach Dave Lowe. “We gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return after kicking a field goal and we fumble the ball and they return it for a touchdown.”
This is only the third game in the series, in which Pine Ridge leads 2-1. Cocoa Beach won 34-13 in 1994 and last season the Panthers prevailed 27-8.
“It hurts, it hurts,” said Lowe. “Our schedule is set up so that we would have loved to go 2-0 going into MCC, which, if not the toughest, is probably one of our two toughest games all year so we wanted to have some confidence going into this week.”
The Minutemen (1-1) visit longtime rival MCC Friday at 7 p.m. while the Panthers (1-1) have a bye before hosting perennial powerhouse Mainland Friday, Sept. 16.
Pine Ridge 35, Cocoa Beach 21
Pine Ridge 7 6 7 15 — 35
Cocoa Beach 3 3 15 0 — 21
HOW THEY SCORED
CB – Evan Hoke 42 FG 3:04.
PR – Stevon Dennis 78 kickoff return (Mitchell Garza kick) 2:51.
PR – Robert Walker 26 pass from Will Rauseo (kick failed) 4:53.
CB – Hoke 38 FG :21.
PR – Walker 73 pass from Rauseo (Garza kick) 11:10.
CB – David Demeter 1 run (Demeter pass from Mitchell Machock) 5:33.
CB – Machock 1 run (Hoke kick) :55.
PR – Walker 15 pass from Rauseo (Jalen Gowen run) 7:08.
PR – Devon McGirt 14 fumble recovery (Garza kick) 6:52.
Rushing: PR — Tommy Cason 15-80, Dillon Torres 1-7, Stevon Dennis 1-35. CB — David Demeter 19-109, Mitchell Machock 8-39, Felipe Pires 2-10.
Passing: PR — Dillon Torres 3-6-0, 14 yards, Will Rauseo 6-11-0, 129 yards. CB — Machock 7-20-0, 59 yards.
Receiving: PR — Cason 3-14, Robert Walker 1-26. CB — Keifer Hudson 1-5, Felipe Pires 4-41, David Aumuller 1-11, Demeter 1-2.
At Cocoa Beach High School, Cocoa Beach
Top performers: Pine Ridge: Robert Walker hauled in three touchdown receptions of 26, 73 and 15 yards from quarterback Will Rauseo, and Stevon Dennis had a 78-yard kickoff return for a TD; Cocoa Beach: Running back David Demeter rushed for 109 yards and a score and placekicker Evan Hoke booted a pair of first-half field goals of 42 and 38 yards.
Key play: Devin McGirt’s 14-yard fumble recovery with 6:52 remaining gave the Panthers a 35-21 lead.
Record: Pine Ridge (1-1); Cocoa Beach (1-1)
Next week: Pine Ridge bye; Cocoa Beach at MCC, 7 p.m.
Full game report: http://on.flatoday.com/2bWYbP4
John Janokaitis, for FLORIDA TODAY