VERO BEACH — Treasure Coast QB Steve Marriott connected with Patrick Harris for two touchdowns and led his team over undefeated Vero Beach 20-3 Friday night. Marriott completed 12 of 19 passes with 2 TDs and 42 yards rushing, Harris had 4 receptions for 100 yards and 2 TDs.
The Fighting Indians drew first blood when kicker Pat Baker made a 39-yard yard field with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter. Senior linebacker Rockcliff Coke blocked a punt at the 39 to set up that score. The defenses took turns dominating. VBHS defensive end Cody Horstman made a tackle on a busted punt play with 9:18 left in the half, but on the very next play, RB Antone Taylor fumbled on a pitch sweep, and gave the ball right back to the Titans.
Treasure Coast marched down the field, with RB Cedric Wilcox breaking two big runs. Wilcox scored on a 14-yard TD run up the middle with 5:00 left in the half, going completely untouched to give the Titans a lead they would never relinquish. The PAT was blocked, to keep the score 6-3. VBHS QB Todd Fennell fumbled at the TCHS 46 with 12 seconds left to thwart a possible end-of-the half scoring drive.
The third quarter featured 50 penalty yards by TCHS, but the Fighting Indians couldn’t capitalize and put points on the scoreboard. Baker missed a 50-yard FG wide-left with 3:30 left in the quarter, and this would be the last time VBHS would be in scoring position.
Just plays later, the Titans executed a screen pass to perfection when Marriott hit Harris on the right sideline. Harris juked two Fighting Indian defenders, and was off to the races. Getting some nice downfield blocks, Harris took the screen pass 81 yards for the TD with 1:54 to play in the third quarter. Once again, VBHS blocked the PAT to trail 12-6.
Vero Beach never recovered from the long screen pass, and with 6:58 left in the game Marriott and Harris connected for another TD from the 13. Harris held on to the ball in spite of a violent hit by safety Larry Franklin. TCHS scored on the 2-point conversion run by WR Justin Hughes, to Make the score 20-3.
The Fighting Indians attempted to put together another drive, but an interception by safety Steven Funderburke on a Todd Fennell pass sealed the win for TCHS with just minutes to play.
Titans Coach Bill Kelley was proud to get a win against a tough opponent on the road.
“This is a very tough place to play against a very well-coached football team,” said Kelley. “You saw how their special teams played – that’s the mark of a well-coached team .I’ve never seen my kids like they were this week. They were so focused, that I told them the only thing the coaching staff needed to do for them tonight was just get out of the way. The kids executed all night.”
Vero Beach only gained 26 yards rushing on 31 carries. Coach Gary Coggin gave TCHS credit for their great defense and remained optimistic about his football team.
“Defensively we played pretty good, but offensively we just never got anything going,” said Coggin. “I give their defense credit because they got after us pretty good — their defensive front gave us problems all night. The kids played hard and the coaches did a good job preparing. We’ll see if we can get some of our problems fixed and get back to work.”
The win gives Treasure Coast (5-2) their first ever district title. Vero Beach (7-1) travels to Palm Bay (6-2) next week for their last regular season game. The Pirates defeated Treasure coast 7-0 on Sept. 18, and will be another test for the playoff-bound Fighting Indians.