Young Defense Keys Bulldogs In Victory

By  //  May 26, 2012

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Pennella Leads Melbourne

Astronaut defenders put a big hit on a Melbourne ball carrier in a spring prep football game Friday at Melbourne High School. (Image by Robert Hughes)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – If a young, inexperienced defensive unit was Melbourne football coach Todd Wilson’s concern before his team’s spring game against Astronaut Friday night, he should be sleeping better after the Bulldogs blanked the War Eagles 15-0.

Nick Pennella topped off his excellent game with a 50-yard fumble return for one touchdown, Carson Jackson ran four yards for another and Pat Brush kicked a 20-yard field goal to account for Melbourne’s scoring.

But spring football is a game of mistakes, hopefully to be corrected by fall, and the teams spent much of the time trading turnovers and broken plays.

“Offensively, we did things well in spurts and sputters, but that’s the way it goes in the spring,” Wilson said. “We’re going to watch film and see a million mistakes. But I thought our effort was excellent.”

Coach Todd Wilson of Melbourne talks to his team during a timeout on Friday. (Image by Robert Hughes)

Pennella drew extra praise fromWilsonfor his performance.

His long run to the Astronaut 10-yard line was the key play after a blocked punt that led to Brush’s field goal to open the scoring early in the second quarter. That was all the points in a sluggish first half played mostly on Astronaut’s side of the field.

The Bulldogs got some momentum going in the second half, however. Another long run by Pennella put Melbourne at the War Eagle 15 early in the third quarter and after the two teams traded fumble recoveries, Jackson finally found the end zone on a left-side sweep.

Pennella’s long fumble recovery sealed the win in the fourth quarter after backup Bulldog quarterback Montel Montgomery broke tackle after tackle in his backfield before losing the ball on the play.

Melbourne's defense blocks an Astronaut punt in a spring game Friday. (Image by Robert Hughes)

Astronaut head coach Randy Hallock did not appear upset by his team’s performance.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” he said. “We had too many turnovers. But we’ve got 17 or 18 new starters, so we expected some mistakes.”

Hallock had no complaints about his standout, J.T. Hassell, however.

Hassell was all over the field as he recovered one Bulldogs’ fumble when they were near the goal line, hit the Melbourne quarterback to cause an interception, and recovered another fumble late in the game.

“He has the ability to be a D-1 player,” Hallock said.