On a beautiful evening for football, the Cape Coral Christian Crusaders' defeated Nicea Academy 44-25 Friday night at North Fort Myers Community Park.
Despite a flag-filled first half, the teams battled back and forth evenly until the Crusaders with a deeper bench won in an abbreviated second half.
The Crusaders' kickoff rolled out of bounds on Nicea's 26-yard line. After managing only one first down, Nicea punted to the Crusaders' 5-yard line. The Crusaders drove to the Nicea 11, but Daulton Reiter's pass was intercepted by Nathan Evora.
On the next play, Nicea's Shaun Lewis broke off a 75-yard run to score the game's first points. The PAT failed leaving Nicea with a 6-0 lead.
Cape took possession on their own15 and drove to the Nicea 4, but turned the ball over on downs. Nicea drove to the Crusaders' 32 as the first quarter ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Nicea quarterback Lucas Foreman scored on a 32-yard run. Again the point-after failed leaving Nicea with a 12-0 lead.
The Crusaders came to life on a four-play drive on Damien Moralles' 39-yard run. A 15-yard pass from Reiter to Moralles put the Crusaders on the board. Reiter ran the ball on the point-after to pull within 12-7.
An onside kick recovered by the Crusaders' John Hulton gave the ball back to the Crusaders. Cape drove the ball to the 5 where Reiter hit Dylan Cassilo with a pass for the touchdown. Though the PAT failed, Cape led 13-12.
Nicea fielded an onside kick attempt and on their fifth play, Lewis scampered 37 yards for the TD. The PAT attempt failed and Nicea seized the lead 18-13.
The Crusaders took the ensuing kickoff and steadily drove the ball to the Nicea 8. Reiter finished the drive on a keeper run into the end zone. The PAT failed, but the Crusaders' roller-coastered back into a 19-18 lead.
Cape's only deep kickoff of the evening landed in the hands of Shaun Lewis on his own 10. He promptly returned it 70 yards for the TD. Estaban Llavante ran for the extra point to put Nicea back in a 25-19 lead.
With less than two minutes left in the half the Crusaders drove the length of the field, highlighted by a 25-yard pass from Reiter to Moralles. Reiter ran the final 18 yards to score on the last play of the half and the Crusaders were tied 25-25 at intermission when the PAT failed.
Moralles took Nicea's second-half kickoff back 32 yards. A 15-yard horse-collar penalty was tacked onto the end to put the ball deep in Nicea territory. Four plays later, Troy Ronkiewicz ran it in from nine yards out. The Crusaders lead 31-25.
Nicea answered with a long drive to the Cape 13, but lost possession on a fumble.
The third play after Cape's recovery, Reiter bounded 68 yards for the score. Damien Moralles converted the PAT run to make it 38-25.
The teams exchanged possessions, but with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter, Moralles picked off a pass and returned it 35 yards for another Crusaders score.
At this point Nicea suffered its third injury and left them unable to continue the game.
The Crusaders improved to 5-1 and host Golden Rule Academy next Friday night.
Nicea Academy6 19 0 x - 25
Cape Coral Christian0 25 19 x - 44
N - Lewis 75 run (PAT failed)
N - Foreman 32 run (PAT failed)
CCC - Moralles 15 pass from Reiter (Reiter run)
CCC - Cassilo 5 pass from Reiter (PAT failed)
N - Lewis 37 run (PAT failed)
CCC - Reiter 8 run (PAT failed)
N - Lewis 70 kickoff return (Llavante run)
CCC - Reiter 18 run (PAT failed)
CCC - Ronkiewicz 8 run (PAT failed)
CCC - Reiter 68 run (Moralles run)
CCC - Moralles 35 interception return (PAT cancelled)