Sebastian Sharks take bite out of Jensen Beach Falcons 19-14

SEBASTIAN — Utility player extraordinaire Cortez Ash caught a 46-yard pass from QB Wesley Wilson early in the 3rd quarter to set up the game-winning TD. Niko Finnegan found the end zone on the next play from three yards out for his third TD of the year, giving Sebastian River High School the lead over Jensen Beach for good.

SRHS Coach Randy Bethel couldn’t say enough about how important Ash is to his football team.

“Cortez is everything for this football team,” said Bethel. “We moved him from Safety to LB tonight and he stepped up. I had him at three different positions on offense, and he came through. Jensen Beach was prepared for Cortez, but he made some great individual plays to put us over the top tonight.”

The first quarter was played to a draw, in spite of some minor success by the Shark offense. Junior RB Javonte Pierce drew first blood with 7:10 left in the 2nd quarter with a 33-yard TD run for the Sharks.

The 2nd quarter, however, was defined by the clutch play of Wilson. He put on a two-drive clinic here, managing the SRHS offense to two TDs. In the quarter, the junior ran twice for 23 yards, and was 3-4 on his passing attempts for 34 yards and a TD. All the completions were to junior WR Stephon Clark.

Clark’s 21-yard TD reception came with only 1:06 left in the half, and a missed extra point by K Mauricio Pena kept the score 13-0.

Any time Jensen Beach started to put a drive together, the Sharks had an answer. One of the three Falcons turnovers came when Cortez Ash intercepted Jensen Beach QB Dustin Paonessa on a tipped pass to stall out a 7-play drive.

The Falcons worked some quick magic when they got the ball back with 1 minute left in the half. Senior WR Brett Thiesen caught a 52-yard TD pass from Paonessa with 11 seconds left, and an extra point from freshman kicker Shane Leacher made the score 13-7 at the half.

Jensen Beach let the dogs out in the 2nd half – literally. Falcons Coach Lance Jenkins benched 9 of his 11 defensive starters for the duration of the 1st half in for disciplinary reasons. But in the 2nd half, he unleashed his doghouse on the Sharks in hope of to ignite his team. Wilson and the SRHS offense responded by driving 80 yards for a TD, putting even more pressure on the explosive Falcons offense.

The Sharks played excellent defense in the 3rd quarter, forcing Paonessa to go 1-5 with an interception. The interception was by Senior S Tony Spagnoia, his 2nd on the year. The one pass Paonessa did complete was on a 41-yard go route to Thiesen. Thiesen out-leaped DB Javon Jones for the ball, and after a Kevin Barry extra point the score was 19-14.

The 4th quarter saw SRHS control the ball for a huge chunk of time. The Sharks put together a 13 play drive that took them 44 yards and into field goal range. Pena’s kick didn’t find the mark, and the Falcons got the ball back on their own 20 with under 2 minutes left.

SHRS contained Paonessa on the drive, but were tricked by a gadget play. Theisen got the ball from Paonessa on a lateral screen pass, and then Theisen shocked the crowd by hitting junior WR Steven Graziano for a 26-yard completion. Paonessa ended the game by throwing four straight incomplete passes, but the Falcons went down fighting.

Wilson finished the game 9-13 for 122 yards and a TD. Fred Macon missed the game due to injury, and Bethel did a masterful job in redistributing the offensive load as a result.

“The bottom line is we got out-coached,” said Jenkins. “We couldn’t find any rhythm all night. We got two cheap scores on them, and that’s it.”

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