Fort Pierce Halts Palm Bay In Final Seconds

By  //  September 11, 2012





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BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Palm Bay couldn’t get its field-goal unit lined up in time to attempt an 18-yard field goal as time elapsed Monday night in a 14-12 loss to Fort Pierce Central.

Palm Bay's Leroy Berry rushed for 212 yards on 39 carries and put his team in a position to win in the final seconds against Fort Pierce Central on Monday. (Image by Ed Pierce)

Leroy Berry, who rushed for 212 yards on 39 carries in a game that was suspended midway through the second quarter on Friday night because of lightning, ran 2 yards to the Central 1-yard line with less than 22 seconds to play.

Instead of going for the touchdown on fourth down, the Pirates tried to set up for a game-winning field goal. One offensive lineman struggled to run from the sideline to the line of scrimmage and the Pirates were unable to snap the ball in time to kick a field goal.

Brian Fallace’s 19-yard pass to B.J. Ross on fourth down gave Palm Bay a first down at the Central 8 with 39 seconds to play. Berry ran 5 yards up the middle on first down to the Cobras’ 3, but a second-down pass by Fallace fell incomplete with 32 seconds remaining.

“The pass was not unexpected,” Central coach Josh Shaffer said. “It was the correct call. It only used up around 3 seconds. I knew our guys could come through.”

Alex Carrera’s 34-yard field goal attempt for the Cobras hit the crossbar with 4:34 remaining as Palm Bay took possession at its own 20. Berry ran up the middle for 4 yards, Bashad Parrish ran to the right for 5 yards and followed that with a 4-yard run up the middle for a first down at the Palm Bay 33.

Berry ran the ball three consecutive times for gains of 5, 15 and 7 yards as Central called timeout with 1:52 to play and the ball at the Central 47. Berry ran to the left for 7 yards and a first down, and Brandon Moon’s 4-yard run on first down advanced the ball to the Central 29.

Clutch reception

Shareef Rhaheed’s big hit on Fallace as he released the ball forced an incomplete pass, and Berry ran up the middle for a 2-yard gain on third down to the Central 27. After a timeout, Fallace found Ross for a clutch reception on fourth down.

“They’re (Palm Bay) a great football program,” Shaffer said. “This was a real big test for us on the road, and it will help us in the long run. Palm Bay just runs it right down your throat… Both sides play real, big-time high school football. I’m really proud of our kids.”

Central, which trailed 12-0 when the game was stopped on Friday, scored both of its touchdowns within a 3:29 span of the third quarter.

Sam Vaughn threw a 71-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to a wide-open J.J. Stevens, who ran untouched to the end zone with 10:28 to play in the third quarter. Carrera kicked the extra point as the Cobras whittled their deficit to 12-7.

Central then held Palm Bay to 8 yards on three running plays and took over at its own 36 after a 36-yard punt by Palm Bay’s James Gilbert.

Three plays later, Vaughn found Stevens open on the right side for a 54-yard scoring pass with 6:59 to play in the third quarter. Carrera converted the extra point to give the Cobras a 14-12 advantage.

“Coach found some spots in their Cover 2 (defense),” Stevens said. “We took a shot and I was able to take it to the house. I had to make up for the fumble I had earlier.”

B.J. Ross caught a 19-yard fourth-down pass from Brian Fallace that gave Palm Bay a first down at the Fort Pierce Central 8-yard line with 39 seconds left. (Image by Ed Pierce)

Missed opportunity

Palm Bay failed to take advantage of that fumble, which occurred on the first play when play resumed Monday after a one-hour delay due to more lightning. Stevens ran 6 yards to the 50-yard line, but he fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Palm Bay’s Caleb Killen.

Berry ran 2 yards on first down and followed that with a 20-yard run on second down where he powered up the middle and cut to the right to the Cobras’ 28. Three plays later, Berry rushed for a first down on fourth-down-and-2 from the 20 to give the Pirates the ball at the Central 14.

B.J. Ross ran to the right for 6 yards, and Berry muscled up the middle for 5 yards to the Central 3. Berry was stopped after a 2-yard gain to the Cobras’ 1, and he was halted inches shy of the goal on second down. After a Central timeout, Palm Bay was whistled for a 5-yard penalty for movement on the line as several Cobras came crashing past the line of scrimmage. Berry then ran to the left for 4 yards on third down to the Cobras’ 2.

Fallace’s fourth-down pass to Derylton Hill fell incomplete just inches from his finger tips with 46 seconds to play in the second quarter.

The Pirates rushed for 277 yards on 57 carries and finished with 323 yards of total offense.

“Their toughness is having the right 30-some kids on their roster. They have a great, disciplined program.” Fort Pierce Central coach Josh Shaffer talking about Palm Bay High School’s football team.

“Their toughness is having the right 30-some kids on their roster,” Shaffer said. “They have a great, disciplined program. Coach (Dan) Burke is a fantastic coach. It was hard to celebrate on his field because I respect him so much.”

Josh Best blocked Carrera’s 30-yard field-goal attempt, and Palm Bay took possession at its own 24 with 5:21 to play in the third quarter.

Fallace’s 27-yard strike to Caleb Alves on the right side and a personal foul on the play by the Cobras moved the ball to the Central 34. But Berry fumbled the ball on a bruising 20-yard run up the middle, and the ball was recovered by Central’s Deion Robinson.

After stoppping Central on downs and taking possession at its own 31 after a 46-yard punt by Mike McInnis, Palm Bay ran the ball seven consecutive times to conclude the quarter as it advanced the ball to the Central 35. Central was whistled for an offsides penalty on the first play of the fourth quarter, but two carries by Berry netted just 3 yards and a 15-yard personal foul on the second run pushed the ball back to the Central 42.

Fallace’s pass on the ensuing play was underthrown to Shyheim Alves, Berry gained 11 yards on third down and Fallace was pressured hard by Central’s rush as his fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 9:37 remaining in the game.

Palm Bay was whistled for a controversial hitting-below-the-knee penalty as it stopped Stevens for a 1-yard gain on a third-down reverse with 7 1/2 minutes remaining. Burke argued to no avail, and Central was able to whittle another 3 minutes off the clock before Palm Bay was able to regain possession for its final drive of the game.

Berry ran to the left and broke one tackle as he cut to the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:48 remaining in the second quarter Friday to give Palm Bay a 12-0 advantage. Caleb Alves just missed grabbing a two-point conversion pass from Fallace.

Palm Bay had taken possession at the Central 37-yard line when Sekai Lindsey intercepted a pass by Vaughn.

Pass interference was called on Fallace’s pass to Caleb Alves on first down, moving the ball to the Central 22.

Parrish ran to the left for 4 yards, and Berry followed with a 12-yard run to the left and a cut to the middle for a first down at the 6. Moon ran 2 yards to the right on first down to set up Berry’s scoring run on second down.

Dan Burke

Costly turnover

The Pirates (1-1) took advantage of a costly turnover by the Cobras (2-0) in the first quarter to score their first touchdown. Gilbert’s 33-yard punt was fumbled by Joseph Figueroa at the Central 12, and Le’troy Wolters recovered the ball at the Central 10 with 6:04 to play in the first quarter.

Berry, who rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries during Friday’s abbreviated action, ran 3 yards to the right on first down. Pass interference was called on Fallace’s pass down the right sideline on second down, and the Pirates were given a first down at the Central 5.

B.J. Ross ran up the middle for 4 yards on first down, and Parrish followed with a 1-yard scoring run on the ensuing play to give the Pirates a 6-0 lead. A bad snap on the point-after attempt forced an errant pass, which fell short of the end zone.

Vaughn completed 7 of 13 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Central was held to 69 yards rushing on 25 carries.

The Pirates recorded 19 first downs, and the Cobras posted seven first downs.

Palm Bay will travel to Kissimmee on Friday to face Osceola in another non-district game. The Pirates, who defeated Rockledge 21-10 in their regular-season opener, will host Melbourne at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in their Class 6A, District 13 opener.

Central, which lost 13-10 to eventual Class 7A state champion Bradenton Manatee in the state quarterfinals last year, edged Palm Bay 17-14 in overtime last year in Fort Pierce. That game was delayed for two hours because of lightning.