By  //  November 3, 2012

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Week 10

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Week 10 of the 2012 prep football season was played Friday evening with a slate of 12 games.

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BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Sophomore Max Erdman begged his football coach to go for two on Friday night. Holy Trinity made the decision a little easier for Melbourne Central Catholic coach Mike Riazzi as the Hustlers came away with a 22-21 home victory and an improbable state playoff berth out of Class 3A, District 4.

MCC quarterback Brandon Ziarno hands off to Max Erdman during a prep football game against Holy Trinity at Melbourne Central Catholic High School on Nov. 2. (Image by Christey Krause)

After sophomore quarterback Brandon Ziarno’s 2-yard scoring run on third down whittled Holy Trinity’s lead to 21-20 with 10.5 seconds to play, MCC had the choice of letting Erdman kick the extra point to tie the game to send it to overtime or to gamble for the two-point conversion to end the game. When the Hustlers scored their touchdown, Holy Trinity was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Just seconds later, while MCC was lining up to go for two points, Holy Trinity was whistled for being offside.

That pushed the ball inside the Holy Trinity 1-yard line, and Erdman capitalized by taking the snap out of the shotgun and sprinting into the end zone for the game-winning points.

Holy Trinity took possession at its own 48 after a squib kick, but Willie Gibson was tackled at the MCC 40 after catching a 12-yard pass from Johnny Gomez to end the game.

“We went for two and for a win at Harmony and lost (36-35) on the last play of the game earlier this season,” said Rizzi, whose Hustlers improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the district. “I would have gone for one, but Max said to go for two. Then, Coach (Jim) Ziarno (Jr.) made a tremendous play call. I’m so proud of them.”

Josh Harden’s 8-yard run to the right for a touchdown gave Holy Trinity (6-3, 2-2) a 21-14 lead after Anthony Cally kicked the third of his three successful PATs with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining. Harden, a freshman, finished with 141 yards on 27 carries.

The Tigers started the four-play drive from the MCC 30 after Nick Hamer fielded Erdman’s 35-yard punt at midfield and returned it 20 yards. Harden was stopped for a 2-yard loss on first down, but he powered up the middle and cut to the left on second down for a 16-yard gain. He followed that with an 8-yard run to the right to set up his scoring run on the next play.

Ziarno was sacked for an 8-yard loss on third down on the previous possession, which forced Erdman to punt from deep in his own territory.

Holy Trinity’s Josh Harden looks fro room to run against MCC’s defense during a prep football game at Melbourne Central Catholic High School on Nov. 2. (Image by Christey Krause)

“One of our kids said, ‘That’s what we live for’ (before the final drive),” Riazzi said. “Another said, ‘I think this is a blast.’ They outplayed us. Our kids hung in there with a lot of heart. The kids played with ice in their veins.”

MCC took over at its own 25 with 2:29 to play. Ziarno’s first-down pass to Erdman on the left side netted 16 yards. Then, the sophomores connected on a 46-yard pass play as Ziarno found Erdman open on the right side. Erdman caught the ball at the Holy Trinity 28 and broke two tackles as he sprinted to the Holy Trinity 13.

“They had soft coverage and the middle was wide open,” Erdman said. “Brandon and I have had a connection; we’ve known each other for a while. We knew we could bounce back.”

Alex Ponce ran 4 yards up the middle on a draw to the Tigers’ 9, but Ziarno’s pass to Ray Watkins fell incomplete in the left side of the end zone. Holy Trinity’s Gibson then broke up a lob pass to Watkins in the left corner of the end zone on third down as MCC called timeout with 1:23 to play.

Holy Trinity was assessed a costly offside penalty on fourth down to move the ball just inside the 5-yard line. Ziarno then completed a clutch 3-yard pass to freshman Will Erdman for a first down at the 1. But, Ponce was pushed back for a 1-yard loss on first down and Max Erdman was stopped for no gain on second down.

As the clock was winding down, Ziarno ran 2 yards for a touchdown to set up the two-point conversion.

“Overtime would have been tough,” Max Erdman said. “They were killing us on the run.”

“It hurts,” Holy Trinity coach Mark Ainsley said. “(Erdman’s 46-yard reception) was a good play and a good catch. We just didn’t tackle. We’re not in the playoffs and they are. We had breakdowns on offense. It is what it is.”

First Academy (9-0, 4-0) defeated MCC 52-8 and Holy Trinity 36-7 to easily win the district title. MCC and Holy Trinity battled Friday for the second playoff berth out of the district.

“They’ve been playing football here for 50 years and this is one of the greatest wins we’ve ever had,” Riazzi said. “… We never stopped their running game. It doesn’t make sense that the points didn’t equal the yardage. I hate to say that it was bend and not break.”

Holy Trinity squandered an opportunity to lead by more than 7-6 at halftime. After Ziarno’s 16-yard scoring pass to Max Erdman cut the Tigers’ lead to 7-6 with 1:06 to play in the second quarter, Holy Trinity took over at its own 44 after the kickoff. Daniel Welch completed a 12-yard pass to J’Von Butler on the right side on second down, and Harden powered for a 4-yard gain to the MCC 40.

Welch’s 37-yard pass to Gibson moved the ball to the MCC 3, and Hamer ran 2 yards up the middle to the Hustlers’ 1 with 6.3 seconds to play in the second quarter. Welch was stopped on a quarterback keeper for no gain as time appeared to elapse, but Holy Trinity was able to call a timeout with less than 1 second remaining to set up a final play. Hamer was stopped inches shy of the goal line as MCC ran off the field with new life in the pivotal district clash.

“That defensive stop in the first half was huge,” Riazzi said. “The kids knew they were getting beat. It helped to look up and only be down by one. It could have been 21-0. Our defense was tired (in the second half). Holy Trinity had so many players going both ways; I thought we would wear them down. They just got stronger. The Collins linemen (brothers Ryan, Dylon and and Brandon) were strong.”

Holy Trinity took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter on Welch’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Marques Burgman. Cally kicked the extra point with 9:05 to play in the quarter.

Ziarno completed 16 of 25 passes for 226 yards. He also was intercepted two times. Max Erdman caught five of those passes for 94 yards, rushed for 28 yards on six carries and averaged 33.2 yards on five punts. Erdman also completed his lone pass for an 8-yard gain and scored on two conversion runs. MCC was held to 35 yards rushing on 25 carries.

Austin Perlman of MCC carries the football during a prep football game against Holy Trinity at Melbourne Central Catholic High School on Nov. 2. (Image by Christey Krause)

Led by Harden, Holy Trinity rushed for 208 yards on 43 carries. Welch completed 5 of 11 passes for 80 yards, and Gomez completed 2 of 9 passes for 25 yards.

MCC took a 14-7 lead with 8:38 to play in the fourth quarter as Watkins caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Ziarno over the middle. Erdman ran to the left for the two-point conversion.

Just one play earlier, Erdman’s option pass off a reverse for a 32-yard touchdown to Edwin Molina was called back after a penalty.

Holy Trinity quickly came back to tie the game at 14 just 1:18 later on Gomez’ 1-yard run and Cally’s PAT. Three consecutive runs – Gibson’s 22-yard reverse to the right and runs to the right by Harden for 21 yards and 11 yards – were the key plays in the seven-play, 62-yard drive.

MCC’s makeup game against Viera, which had been rescheduled for Monday after Hurricane Sandy washed it out last week, has been postponed once again. Viera (1-7) defeated Martin County 24-14 Friday to finish in a three-way tie for second place in Class 7A, District 12 with Martin County and Port St. Lucie at 1-2. Fort Pierce Central (8-0, 3-0) finished first. The three second-place teams will play Monday to break the tie. One team will receive a bye while the two other teams will play a 24-minute game. The winner of that game will play another 24-minute game against the team which received the bye to determine who will receive the coveted state playoff berth.

MCC will end its regular season next Friday with a 7 p.m. home game against Heritage, which finished second in Class 6A, District 13.

Holy Trinity will conclude its season Friday with a 7 p.m. home game against Jupiter Christian.

– Jeff Navin















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