Time and again Friday night, Bishop Verot’s defense stood tall against Avon Park in a grind-it-out District 4A-6 slugfest.
By the fourth quarter, however, the Vikings just didn’t have much left.
One blown coverage later, they were staring at an 18-7 deficit that wouldn’t change as the Red Devils escaped Vikings Stadium at Swanson Field with a huge district victory.
“A lot of people consider our two teams the top two teams in the district,” said Avon Park head coach Wade Jackson, whose team improved to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in 4A-6. “But we have to keep taking it one game at a time. We take nobody lightly. We stay humble and get better every week.”
The Red Devils, taking the inside track on a 4A-6 title with the win, rushed 40 times for 209 yards and smartly chewed up clock late.
They followed the lead of Montrae Braswell, who took the ball 19 times for 133 yards, and Moses Satine, who found the end zone twice in the second quarter.
But while Avon Park scored the game’s go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes to go in the second quarter, they were stymied mostly otherwise, turning the ball over four times to go with four punts, three of which were in the second half.
It looked as though the Vikings (4-2, 2-1 4A-6) would get one last stop in the fourth quarter to at least give their offense one last chance to take the lead.
But the Red Devils came up huge on a fourth-and-8 with just over three minutes left.
Quarterback Adarius Council, who by then had gone 3-of-8 for 19 yards with two interceptions, found James Beck on a crossing route for the game-ending score.
“He’s just one of those kids,” Jackson said. “He has so much adrenaline, sometimes he just doesn’t give it time. But he’s still a leader on our team. We were patient.”
The Vikings responded on the very next play of their returning series with a 59 yard pass play from Alex McDougall to Mathias Combs that put the Vikings at the 6.
But they were stuffed on their next play and failed to complete their next two passes before the left-footed Nathan Holmes missed a 25-yard field goal attempt from the right hash.
“We have not played like that all year,” said Bishop Verot coach Bill Shields, who was without leading rusher William Scott for the second straight game. “So yes, in terms of that, it’s disappointing. But those things happen. Do we want them to happen? No. But they do happen.”
The Vikings coaching staff made curious decisions in the second half, interchanging both McDougall and sophomore Korey Besse at quarterback on nearly every play. Besse, a sophomore transfer from North Fort Myers who was active for the first time this year, was 4-of-8 for 59 yards, but failed to get into any kind of rhythm.
Cooper Gibson, who rushed for 102 yards, scored Bishop Verot’s only touchdown, taking a handoff for 22 yards in the first quarter. Cornerback Deven Thompkins had two interceptions and two other passes defended.
From there, the team punted three times and was intercepted once. The Vikings then lost two straight fumbles between the second and third quarters before washing away good field position in the fourth quarter.
AVON PARK 0 | 12 | 0 | 6 – FINAL 18
BISHOP VEROT 7 | 0 | 0 | 0 – FINAL 7
BV: Cooper Gibson 22 run (Nathan Holmes kick)
AP: Moses Satine 5 run (kick failed)
AP: Satine 11 run (run failed)
AP: James Beck 10 pass from Adarius Council (pass failed)