Vero Beach loses heartbreaker to Boca Raton 31-21 in playoffs

 BOCA RATON – Boca Raton QB Eddie Sullivan accounted for all four of his team’s touchdowns, leading the Bobcats to victory over the Fighting Indians 31-21. Vero Beach ends the season with a first round playoff elimination and a 7-3 record, while Boca Raton improves to 9-2 and advances to play Treasure Coast High School at home next week

 Sullivan started off the first quarter going 5/10 passing for 69 yards, and badly overthrew a handful of passes.  The second quarter he came out and torched the VBHS secondary for 186 yards on 8/10 passing and three TD passes.  In all, Sullivan was 13/20 for 245 yards and 3 TDs in the first half.  Vero Beach looked good at times throughout the first half, but couldn’t sustain offensive drives long enough to put points on the board. The offense was dictated by Junior FB Jormonte Hunter.  He ran amuck on the Bobcat defense, toting the ball 12 times for 120 first half yards.

 The play of the half came on its last play.  Senior QB Alex Bryan found junior WR Joe Garafalo streaking down the left sideline with no time remaining for a 49 yard TD pass, in what was the only VBHS completion of the half.  The Fighting Indians went into halftime down 7-21. 

The third quarter was all VBHS.  The Fighting Indians came out of halftime with purpose, scoring on two Hunter TD runs.  To the chagrin of the Bobcats, VBHS controlled the ball for nearly the entire quarter, holding Boca Raton to only three offensive plays-including an interception by senior DB Kenneth Jackson.  The Fighting Indians and Bobcats were tied at 21 with 11:30 left in the half.

Hunter continued to put on a show into the fourth quarter, running for 78 yards on just five carries.  The play of the game came when Hunter broke down the right sideline for a TD, only to have his score called back on the account of a questionable personal foul ruling by the officials.  The assumption by most in the stadium was that the officials ruled Hunter out of bounds at the 12, and then tacked on 15-yard personal foul on VBHS for a block on one the defenders who was in pursuit of Hunter. 

After the game, Vero Beach Coach Gary Coggin told the media that Hunter was not ruled out, but the ball was ruled dead at the spot of the foul – in addition to the 15 yard penalty.

With 7:43 left on the clock, and VBHS with the ball 1st and 10 on the Boca 27, Hunter fumbled on a run up the middle.  The Bobcats recovered, and marched downfield into VBHS territory. 

The drive set up Boca kicker David Bicknell for a 41-yard FG, which he made with 2:15 left in the game.  Bicknell missed 49-yard attempt earlier in the game, and his make served as the game-winning score for Boca Raton.  Sullivan added a 19-yard TD run with 1:05 left to play to put the icing on the cake for the Bobcats.  He finished the game with 286 yards passing and three passing TDs, and added 47 yards rushing with a TD run.

Bobcats coach Keith Byars couldn’t say enough about his kicker after the game.

“David is a complete player, and he contributes to our team in many different ways,” said Byars.  “He is deserving of, and is the essence of the Lou Groza Award.  He may not win it, but you can’t control the politics of the award.”

Hunter finished the game with season highs of 27 carries and 255 yards, with 2 TDs.  The player of the game for the Fighting Indians, though, was Senior Travonte’ Boles.  Boles played almost the entire game, lining up every play on the offensive line and about 2/3 of the plays at nose guard.

Coggin was proud of, and sad for his team captain. 

“I don’t have words for that young man right now,” said Coggin.  “That young man left it all out on the field today, as did all of my men.  I’m proud of the way we fought, and few people gave us a chance of winning tonight.” 

“We played well enough to win . . . I’ll leave it at that.”

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