A power running game and a stout defensive effort led the Island Coast Gators to a 21-8 victory over the Dunbar Tigers giving the Gators the District 5A-14 championship.
Junior tailback Trey Boyd led the Gators with 214 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
Dunbar looked to threaten early when tailback Marquis Bryant went around the right side and ran loose for a 50-yard gain. The Gator defense rose to the challenge and stopped the Tigers on three straight plays to force the turnover on downs. Both teams moved the ball down the field almost at will only to see drives stall in the red zone.
Island Coast senior defensive lineman Dustin Elg (62) hits Dunbar quarterback Bob Rice (8) just as he throws the ball. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
The host Gators were the first to break through, driving the ball from their own 45-yard line via the run. The drive was capped off when junior Zelan Lambert went over the right side and went virtually untouched to the end zone for a 22-yard score. Kicker and quarterback Quinn Bourque added the extra point and Island Coast had a 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
That script carried over to the second quarter with both teams having opportunities to score only to see the opposing defense come up with big stands and force the turnover on downs. Again it was the Gators who eventually broke through. A seven-play, 58-yard drive culminated when Boyd broke two Dunbar tackles and stormed into the end zone from 16 yards away. Bourque again added the point after, and Island Coast had a 14-0 lead at the half.
The third quarter saw Dunbar shaking things up by going to a more aggressive passing attack, but heavy pressure from the Gators defense and the ball hawking skills of junior defensive back Korey Murphy kept the Tigers scoreless.
In the fourth, following a superb punt by Dustin Elg, the Tigers had a 95-yard field in front of them. Three plays later, quarterback Bob Rice hit senior wide receiver Joe Williams in stride for a 49-yard TD pass. The Tigers added a two-point conversion to cut the Gators lead to 14-8.
Boyd took matters into his own hands. On a second-and-seven, Boyd took the pitch from Bourque and appeared headed for an eight-yard gain and a first down. After looking like he might be stopped, Boyd regained his balance and lowered his shoulder and powered through two would-be tacklers before breaking into the clear. He went the remaining 64 yards for the score. Bourque added the extra point and the Gators held on for the 21-8 victory.
"You have to run angry, it's the mindset," said Boyd. "Nobody is going to outwork us, we're like brothers and we will each other to win."
The Gators wrap up the regular season next Friday in Fort Lauderdale. Dunbar faces North Fort Myers.
Dunbar 0 0 0 8 - 8
Island Coast 7 7 0 7 - 21
IC -Lambert 22 run (Bourque kick)
IC -Boyd 16 run (Bourque kick)
D - Williams 48 pass from Rice (Battle run)
IC - Boyd 64 run (Bourque kick)