VERO BEACH — Junior running back Antone Taylor ran for 137 yards on just 8 carries and senior running back Stevie Wallace collected three TDs Friday night to lead Vero Beach over Centennial 28-13. Taylor had breakaway runs of 38 and 50 yards, scoring on each effort as Vero Beach improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
The first quarter was all Centennial — literally. Vero Beach did not have a single offensive play the entire quarter. The Eagles came out with a power running attack with junior back Javaris Giles piling up 56 yards in the quarter alone. Their first drive resulted in a 30-yard Bak Sharipov FG with 4:29 remaining in the quarter. The Fighting Indians gave the ball right back on the kickoff when Wallace fumbled on his own 42-yard line. Despite an impressive defensive stand by the Vero Beach a roughing the kicker penalty led to a 27-yard Sharipov to make the score 6-0 early in the second quarter.
Fighting Indians junior QB Todd Fennell tossed two second-quarter TD scores and rushed for another to give VBHS the lead 21-6 at the half. Fennell completed all three of his passes in the quarter, including 20- and 1-yard TD passes. He found Wallace from the 1 and junior wide receiver Joe Garafalo from the 20-yard line on those two scores. Wallace also scored on a 5-yard dash to put Vero Beach in control. The Fighting Indians did their damage on only 95 yards of total offense, and were helped out by a 31-yard fumble recovery by defensive back Richard Riley.
VBHS picked up where it left off in the third quarter and they put themselves in position to score again when kicker Pat Baker lined up for a 51-yard field goal attempt. His kick failed when the football caromed off the top of the upright, and bounded into the end zone.
The Eagles took the ball down the field on an 80-yard drive after that miss and scored on junior running back Randy Hunter’s 20-yard TD run with 3:04 left in the third quarter. Sharipov’s PAT was good to make the score 21-13 in favor of Vero Beach.
The fourth quarter was full of penalties with a few big plays sprinkled in. Taylor’s 50-yard run set up Wallace’s second TD, when he hit paydirt from the 4-yard line with 9:50 remaining in the game to put the Fighting Indians up, 28-13.
Centennial didn’t give up, and it mounted an impressive drive deep into VBHS territory. Junior QB Cody Bragg found junior wide receiver Jesse Berry in the end zone from the VBHS 28, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. The Fighting Indians denied the Eagles the end zone, as the defensive line mounted an assault on Bragg.
Centennial Coach Jim O’Neal was proud of the way his team played after the game.
“I challenged my team to come back and fight after the half,” said O’Neal, whose squad fell to 2-4 and 0-2. “My team responded and played tough football against a good football team. We made some mistakes, but we’re a young team.”
Fighting Indians Coach Gary Coggin was cautiously optimistic about his undefeated squad.
“I think we’re getting closer to where we need to be,” said Coggin. “We saw some opportunities tonight and we took advantage of a few of them. People say we haven’t played anybody, and that’s not true. We’ll come out and see what happens next week.”
The Fighting Indians take on formerly ranked Treasure Coast for their Homecoming Game next week.