On a night when the offense needed a little help, the Cape Coral Seahawks defense stepped up.
With quarterback Dylan Bontrager out with a concussion, the Seahawks still rolled to a 40-0 homecoming win Friday night against Cypress Lake.
"We really needed that," Seahawks coach Larry Gary said.
Cape Coral sophomore Errick Dorsey, middle, is greeted by teammates Sam Hunter (52) and Rhasheed Jiles (5) after recovering a blocked punt for the Seahawks' first touchdown against Cypress Lake Friday night. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
The Seahawks improved to 3-1 in winning their District 5A-14 opener, while the Panthers fell to 1-3, 0-1.
Both teams were starting new quarterbacks. Cypress Lake's Donovon Duval was lost for the season in a loss to Fort Myers the week before, while Bontrager sat out after suffering a concussion against Ida Baker.
Cape Coral turned to Eliot Pierce, who struggled much of the game, but completed his first touchdown pass, a nine-yarder to C.J. Lewis, in the third quarter.
The Panthers, meanwhile, tried moving a pair of players from other positions into the quarterback role in Kyndall Douglas and Larry Rogers.
"There were new quarterbacks on both sides of the ball," 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.
Cape Coral's next touchdown came from the defense. Sam Hunter snagged a Cypress Lake 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 touchdown. Colin Loethen recovered a Cypress Lake 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 quarterbacks Douglas and Rogers. The pair were sacked a combined six times in the first half, losing two fumbles.
"They're good up front," Cypress Lake coach Dale More said of the Seahawks. "They're real big and they work their tails off. They're a well-coached team. And they're big people. We're small and scrappy and young, and we work our tails off. We're getting better. This scoreboard doesn't show and last week's scoreboard doesn't show the strides that we're making together. We've just got to get it together on the offensive line to give our skill people a chance to make plays."
At times the Panthers tried going without a quarterback, using direct snaps to runners.
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.
The Seahawks had one major problem Friday - penalties. Cape was penalized 11 times for 133 yards. Five of Cypress Lake's first six first downs came on Cape penalties. That got the Panthers deep in Cape territory, but Zamor forced a fumble that Loethen recovered just before halftime.
Pierce may start at quarterback again next 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)