Homecoming festivities took center stage for Cape High and Ida Baker football games last Friday. Despite the distractions of the pregame and halftime, both the Seahawks and Bulldogs garnered necessary victories.
The Seahawks (3-1, 1-0) coasted to a 40-0 win over Cypress Lake in their first District 5A-14 test of the season. The Bulldogs (4-0) were pushed to the limit before walking away with a 33-28 decision over Riverdale that was determined on the very last play.
First for the Seahawks, on a night when the offense needed a little help, the defense stepped up big. With quarterback Dylan Bontrager out with lingering concussion symptoms a week after going down against Baker, the job fell to Eliot Pierce, who struggled much of the game. He completed his first touchdown pass, a nine-yarder to C.J. Lewis, in the third quarter.
"There were new quarterbacks on both sides of the ball," Seahawks coach Larry Gary said. "Our guy is a quarterback, although he's not as good as Dylan. Their guys are athletes."
Neither offense managed much early, but Cape scored in other ways.
The Seahawks' special teams got the first points on the board, blocking Skyler Schreurs' punt in the end zone. James Zamor recovered for the touchdown. The next TD came from the defense. Sam Hunter snagged a Panthers fumble in midair and ran 42 yards for the score.
After that the homecoming king took over. Eamon Smart ran 71 yards for a second-quarter TD. Colin Loethen recovered a Cypress fumble on the 5, and a play later Smart ran it in for his second score of the night. Smart finished with 162 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Meanwhile the Seahawks defense was making life a nightmare for Cypress. The Seahawks accounted for six sacks in the first half, and recovered two fumbles.
Even when they came close, the Panthers were turned away. Twice in the fourth quarter the Cape defense held inside its own 10. Clifford Moore's nine-yard scoring run was erased by a penalty.
Jordan Lewis ended the game with a 50-yard touchdown run in the final seconds. That started a running clock and the officials didn't bother with a conversion attempt when the clock hit 0:00.
Pierce may start at quarterback again this Friday when the Seahawks travel to North Fort Myers.
"Dylan is cleared to go, but if we can get by without playing him next week we won't play him," Gary said. "He's still not fully ready."
Cypress Lake 0 0 0 0 - 0
Cape Coral 13 14 7 6 - 40
Cape - Zamor recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed)
Cape - Hunter 42 fumble return (Perez kick)
Cape - Smart 71 run (Perez kick)
Cape - Smart 5 run (Perez kick)
Cape - C.J. Lewis 9, pass from Eliot Pierce (Perez kick)
Cape - Lewis 50 run (no conversion attempt)
Ida Baker 333, Riverdale 28: Baker was pushed to the very last play - literally - before stamping out the Raiders in a surprise that left Bulldogs coach Brian Conn loudly searching for answers in the post-game huddle.
"We've lost whatever football mentality we had," he said. "We were really just going through the motions. We'd make a big play and we'd walk back to the huddle. They'd make a big play and we'd walk back to the huddle. We've got to start playing with more excitement. That kind of performance is not going to make you district champions."
It almost, in the end, cost them a place among the unbeaten.
Baker stretched a seemingly comfortable lead to 33-14 on Filander Barahona's 31-yard field goal with 10:48 remaining in the final quarter, but the kick was answered by a 14-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Byron Dean's three-yard scoring run with 4:39 to play.
Ryan Pulley gathered in a 31-yard TD pass with only 8.8 seconds left. After the Raiders misfired on two-point try, Baker was only a recovered onside kick away from graduating to 4-0.
Those plans were foiled when Brian Abrams' cross-field hopper bounced off a Bulldogs up man and was grabbed by Pulley, who ran 20 yards down a delirious Riverdale sideline before officials ruled he could not advance the ball.
Six seconds were put back on the game clock and the Raiders immediately went for the home run ball from midfield. With Lighthall sending a floater toward the right pylon headed in the vicinity of 6-foot-3 senior William Rogers, it was swatted away by the timely right hand of Baker defensive back Roy Denson.
Offsetting flags were thrown at the line of scrimmage, one for holding, one for a personal foul giving Riverdale a final snap, but it went nowhere as Lighthall's toss to Van Edwards fell short.
The Bulldogs ran 51 plays for 356 total yards while scoring all but three of their points in the first half. They had the ball just three times in the second half, kicking the field goal, punting once and turning the ball over once on downs. Baker had 11 penalties in the first half, five more in the second.
The Bulldogs travel to Estero this Friday.
Riverdale 7 7 0 14 - 28
Ida Baker 10 20 0 3 - 33
IB - FG, 34 Barahona
R - Pulley 14 pass from Lighthall (Abrams kick)
IB - Hoagland 11 pass from Attwood (Barahona kick)
IB - Attwood 6 run (Barahona kick)
IB - Febles 20 run (run failed)
R - Edwards 60 run (Abrams kick)
IB - Attwood 1 run (Barahona kick)
IB - FG, 31 Barahona
R - Dean 3 run (Pulley pass)
R - Pulley 31 pass from Lighthall (run failed)
North Fort Myers 42, Mariner 21: Dylan Czerwinski, Jake Duff and Brandon Makar were out to make sure the Mariner Tritons would not crash North Fort Myers' homecoming party. The threesome rushed for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Red Knights (1-3, 1-0) to their first win of the season as well as their first District 5A-14 win.
Tritons quarterback Jonah Markovits rolled to his right and hit wide receiver Malcolm Ferdi-nand down the sideline for a 43-yard gain. Two plays later Markovits found tight end Anthony Chambers in the front of the end zone and the PAT gave Mariner a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.
Two big plays, a 23-yard run by Czerwinski and a 19-yard catch by Connor McCarley got the Knights to the Mariner 2-yard line. Makar called his own number twice, and on the second attempt crossed the goal line and the game was tied 7-7.
A poor kickoff gave the Tritons great field position and a 14-7 lead. After some hard running by Josh Eugene, Markovits connected with Ferdinand in the back corner of the end zone.
Not to be outdone, Czerwinski and Duff rattled off two big runs and fullback Ricky Noel powered in from the 6 to tie it 14-14 at the half.
Makar and Duff accounted for four more TDs on short runs in the second half, from which the Tritons never recovered.
North (1-3) is home against Cape Coral this week while Mariner (0-4, 0-1) hosts Island Coast.
Mariner 0 14 0 7 - 21
North FM 0 14 14 14 - 42
M - Chambers 19 pass from Markovits (Monroe kick)
NFM - Makar 1 run (Black kick)
M - Ferdinand 12 pass from Markovits (Monroe kick)
NFM - Noel 6 run (Black kick)
NFM - Makar 2 run (Black kick)
NFM - Duff 2 run (Black kick)
NFM - Duff 3 run (Black kick)
M - B. Williams 8 run (Monroe kick)
NFM - Duff 21 run (Black kick)
Bishop Verot 45, Doral Academy 14: Bishop Verot used a strong running game that racked up 400 rushing yards, and scored five rushing touchdowns using four different running backs. They scored first, driving down to the Firebirds 5-yard line in nine plays before settling for a 24-yard field goal.
Later in the quarter they capitalized on an interception by Jacob Bowlin, and a pass interference call against Doral. Quinn Farrell hit C.J. Spiro, who was wide open on the right side of the end zone for the only passing touchdown for Verot.
Leslie Green scored Verot's second TD. In the second half, Steve Brown added a rushing touchdown, and the Vikings led 24-7. When the Firebirds cut the deficit to 24-14, The Vikings answered by starting their next drive at their own 5, and ran 16 plays, taking more than seven minutes off the clock, for the touchdown. The final eight were covered by Green's second TD of the night. Green logged 188 yards rushing for the Vikings before suffering a leg injury and left the game.
Luke Kane and Jimmy Dwyer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the final score. Spiro had another outstanding night, with six catches for 125 yards.
Verot hosts LaBelle this week for their annual homecoming game.
Doral Academy 0 7 7 0 - 14
Bishop Verot 10 7 7 21 - 45
BV - FG, 24 Cole
BV - Spiro 16 pass from Farrell (Cole kick)
DA - Pineda 41 run (Rojas kick)
BV - Green 5 run (Cole kick)
BV - Brown 10 run (Cole kick)
DA - Magliano 72 pass from Fernandez (Rojas kick)
BV - Green 8 run (Cole kick)
BV - Kane 6 run (Cole kick)
BV - Dwyer 18 run (Cole kick)
Freelance writers Pete Sisk, Lyle Fitzsimmons, Neil Blair-Bennett and Jonathan Blikstad contributed to this report.