Posted: 11:34 pm Friday, December 3rd, 2010
By Matt Porter
MELBOURNE — With a dominant effort on defense and three touchdown passes, Dwyer beats Palm Bay 24-7 and will face Armwood in the Class 4A state semifinals. Check out our live blog for a full recap of the game.
Game photos | Game story | Stats, Game of the Week mashup video
7:00 p.m. — Sitting high atop Pirates Stadium, home of Palm Bay High School, located just across the Melbourne line. Dwyer (11-1) and Palm Bay (11-0) are out warming up.
The winner of this game will head to either Punta Gorda-Charlotte or Armwood for the Class 4A state semifinals. That game will be next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Quick background: This game is a rematch of the May 21 spring game on this game field, which Palm Bay won, 26-18. Dwyer looked out of sorts in that one, and they’re plenty motivated tonight. For more on that (and Dwyer’s season), check my story that ran in today’s Palm Beach Post.
Lots of buzz here in the press box about recruiting. We have a couple FSU fans in the box, and they’re very interested to see how top-flight recruits Nick O’Leary and Jacoby Brissett fare.
Palm Bay locals wondering about Brissett’s ability to throw the deep ball. Coach Jack Daniels said in the spring game, Brissett didn’t have the same deep options he does now.
“Tommylee [Lewis] wasn’t here, Darrell [Hunter] was hurt, and Clint [Stephens] hadn’t came on yet,” Daniels said. Stephens, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound freshman, has started for the Panthers as of late.
That said, Palm Bay radio broadcast is now doing their open. They’re comparing Brissett to Cam Newton, and saying Palm Bay must focus on Brissett if it has a chance of winning.
7:11 — No injuries for Dwyer. Palm Bay’s Nuel Merriel, a junior wide receiver and regular contributor, broke his collarbone in practice this week.
7:15 — Palm Bay public address thanking several sponsors, including Sonic, which “provided pregame burgers” for the Pirates. (Burp.)
7:23 — Very cool thing during the National Anthem: Palm Bay ROTC staged a re-enactment of the famous flag-planting at Iwo Jima. Never seen that before. Full marks to them. (Click here to see the photo.)
7:25 — Captains for Dwyer: Curt Maggitt, Keith Bowers, Jacoby Brissett and Shawn McClaine. Palm Bay captains Stephen Hughes, Allen Johnson, Chad Wainuskis, and Eamon Ryan. Palm Bay wins the toss and will kick.
12:00 Nick O’Leary rocked on the kickoff by Palm Bay’s B.J. Ross. Never seen O’Leary get hit like that. Dwyer starts at own 25. Shawn McClaine with the first carry, 12 yards for a first down. After a penalty, McClain was stopped for a two-yard loss by Palm Bay’s Hosea Cobb. Jacoby Brissett ahead to Darrell Hunter for a gain of 8. On third-and-5, Dwyer went trips left and Brissett overthrew Tommylee Lewis. Out of bounds. Dwyer punts.
9:44 — Palm Bay takes over at its own 25 after an O’Leary punt. Palm Bay QB Steven Hughes ahead for 4, then a Leroy Berry run was nullified by an illegal shift penalty on the Pirates. On 2nd-and-12, Hugest was nearly chased down by Shawn McClaine in the backfield, but he escaped and got to the 41. A nice run by Hughes, gain of 16, and Palm Bay first down. Berry ahead for no gain, Dwyer stacking the box. Hughes goes deep for Caleb Alves, with Dwyer’s Bobby Moss covering. Overthrew him, Alves trips and falls, and crowd howls for a pass interference. Third and 10, Hughes can’t find an open man. Palm Bay punts.
7:16 — On first down Dwyer’s McClaine gets ahead for 12 yards, to the 40-yard line. His second long gain of the night. He then gets ahead for 9, to the 49. On 2nd-and-1, Dwyer calls a timeout. Off the break, Brissett fakes to McClaine and finds a wide-open Tommylee Lewis, who snuck behind Palm Bay’s Lonico Portis. Great speed from Lewis. A 51-yard touchdown. A roughing-the-passer call on Palm Bay is assessed on the kickoff. Bobby Puyol kicks the extra marker. Dwyer 7, Palm Bay 0, 5:58 1Q
5:58 — Puyol boots the shortened kickoff out of bounds. Palm Bay RB Leroy Berry ahead for five, and Hughes forced out of bounds. Dwyer getting into the backfield. On third-and-2, Maggitt sneaks into the backfield and gets to Hughes. Patrick Miller finishes off Hughes for the sack. Palm Bay punts.
3:39 — O’Leary fields the fair catch at the Palm Bay 44.. McClaine slices ahead for 6. McClaine keeps his balance despite three would-be tacklers and brings the ball just short of the first-down marker. Brissett sneaks ahead for the first down. Then, McClaine gets a block and takes it in from the 32 — but it’s called back because of a holding call…but a personal foul on the Pirates offsets the call. First and 10, Dwyer, from the 32. Brissett finds freshman Clinton stephens for a gain of 6. On 2nd-and-4, McClaine is brought down in the backfield by Palm Bay’s Kevin Elkins — first time he’s been stopped, and a nice tackle by Elkins.
END FIRST QUARTER: Dwyer 7, Palm Bay 0.
12:00 — Brissett incomplete on third-and-4, and Bobby Puyol attempts a 45-yard field goal. He missed a field goal and two extra points in the spring game. He boots it — and it looked good — but it’s called off because of a delay of game. The Panthers decide to go for it this time. Brissett looks like he has Lewis open, and pump-fakes while running, but Elkins and Jake Allen bring him down four yards short. Palm Bay ball.
11:39 — Palm Bay starts at their own 25. Running back Kyle Ferrell dropped for a loss of 1, and Leroy Berry is stopped after a gain of two by Dwyer’s Shubert Bastien. On third-and-9, Palm Bay sees the clock dwindling and burns a timeout. Out of the timeout, Maggitt nearly gets to the speedy Hughes in the backfield — great run there — and Hughes throws it out of bounds. Palm Bay punts.
10:02 — Big 49-yards-in-the-air punt by Palm Bay’s Chad Wainuskis. O’Leary just wowed everyone here — Brissett with a bullet up the middle, and O’Leary leaped, tipped it with one hand, and brought it into his chest. Then he spun off a tackle, and was finally brought down after a gain of 29. Just a phenomenal play.
A gain, and a holding penalty on Dwyer makes it first-and-11, then McClaine gets ahead for 8 yards. McClaine has an extra gear tonight. On 2nd-and-3, Brissett gets the first down, and gets out of bounds. Brissett’s pass on first down was almost his second interception of the season, but Palm Bay’s Alves dove and couldn’t come up with it. McClaine dances ahead for 3. Brissett finds Lewis on the near sideline, and Lewis races ahead and is pushed out of bounds a half-yard short.
On 4th-and-1, Brissett gets another first-down on another QB sneak. On first down from the 28, McClaine gets a block from Darrell Hunter and gets ahead for four. McClaine has 10 carries for 56 yards so far. Brissett’s pass on 2nd-and-6 is to the end zone, but over the head of Lewis. Palm Bay commits a holding penalty that puts the ball at the 10 yard line (half-distance to the goal). On first-and-goal, Palm Bay’s Dalton Melius knocks down Brissett on a bootleg. However, a dead-ball personal foul on the Pirates brings it another half-distance to the goal. First-and-goal from the 5. Timeout, Palm Bay, its second of the half. Palm Bay penalized five times for 40 yards so far (5:57 away from halftime).
Score update: Armwood 14, Charlotte 3.
On first-and-goal from the 5, McClaine goes ahead for three, but Dwyer is called for a hold. First-and-goal from the 15. Brissett rolls out, gets all the time in the world, and threads the needle, Montana-to-Clark style, but Lewis can’t hold on as he dives. Brissett finds Hunter, and Lewis contributes a big block to get Hunter into the end zone. Touchdown, Panthers. Puyol kicks another extra point. Dwyer 14, Palm Bay 0, 5:16 2Q
5:16 — Touchback by Puyol on the kickoff. Pirates running back Leroy Berry stopped for no gain. Sideline warning against Dwyer. Second-and-10 from the 20 for Palm Bay. Hughes goes deep, and Dwyer’s Julian Whigham runs with Caleb Alves, and the crowd howls for a pass interference call. The pass is over his head. A Palm Bay assistant throws a towel up in the air. Whigham nearly intercepts Hughes’ next pass — Hughes is 0-for-5 to start the game. Palm Bay punts.
3:29 — Dwyer takes over at the Palm Bay 42. Brissett looks for Clinton stephens deep in the end zone — nice tight spiral — but it’s three yards over stephens’ head. Brissett is 6-for-11 with two touchdown passes (of 51 and 15 yards) to start the game. People in the booth calling him “Big Ben.” I’ll leave that one alone. He finds O’Leary for the first time tonight, and O’Leary is brought down by three Pirates after a gain of 7.
On third-and-3, Hunter hauls in an 11-yard pass. Palm Bay looks afraid to get beat deep, and Hunter is wide open in the second level. Hunter hauls in another pass, this time a 16-yarder. First-and-goal at the Palm Bay 8-yard line. Brissett’s quarterback keeper attempt is stopped for no gain. On second-and-goal from the 8, Brissett finds backup tight end Ben Hall, a senior, in the back of the end zone. Brissett zipped that one behind two defenders. Puyol’s kick is good. Brutally efficient drive from the Panthers there. Crowd is restless. Dwyer 21, Palm Bay 0, 1:24 2Q
1:24 — Puyol boots the kickoff out of the end zone. Steven Hughes runs it from the 20 to the 34 for a first down that awakens the crowd. He’s forced out of bounds after a gain of 5. Then throws an incomplete pass, but a pass interference call on Dwyer brings the ball across midfield to the Dwyer 46. That’s Palm Bay’s second first down of the evening.
Hughes looks downfield, and Darrell Hunter almost hauls in an interception…dropped it. After the play, Dwyer starting linebacker Jimelle James smacks Palm Bay’s Luis Vega in the face and is taken out of the game. Not a good play by James. The personal foul brings the ball to the 31-yard line, and Hughes takes it another 11 on the next play. First down, Pirates, with 30.8 left in the half.
Pirates go with three-receiver set. Dwyer calls a timeout, their second of the half. Hughes sees tight end Eamon Ryan one-on-one with Dwyer corner Telvince Way and goes to the end zone, but the pass is incomplete. On second down, Hughes looks to pass from the shotgun, but he’s swallowed up by Leroy Kelson, Shubert Bastien and Keith Bowers. Dwyer’s ripping through the Pirates line right now. On third down, Maggitt sacks Hughes for a loss of nine, with Bastien helping. That’s the end of a very ugly half for Palm Bay.
HALFTIME: Dwyer 21, Palm Bay 0.
Dwyer’s Jacoby Brissett found three different receivers for touchdown passes, and the Panthers’ defense put together a dominant defensive first half to take a 21-0 halftime lead over Palm Bat in a Class 4A regional final in Melbourne.
Brissett hit receivers Tommylee Lewis (51 yards), Darrell Hunter (15 yards) and backup tight end Ben Hall (8 yards) for touchdowns. The senior quarterback finished the half 10-of-15 for 158 yards and three TDs. On the ground, senior Shawn McClaine carried 10 times for 56 yards.
But Brissett and the offense really wasn’t the story; Dwyer’s defense was more impressive. The Pirates went three-and-out on each drive but their last of the half. Palm Bay put up just 42 yards of total offense, 34 of those on scrambles by quarterback Steven Hughes.
The Panthers made it hard for Hughes. On Palm Bay’s first drive, the Panthers pressured him into two incompletions and a near-sack. On the last drive, Dwyer sacked Hughes twice for big losses. Normally the dual-threat driving force behind Palm Bay’s offense, Hughes went 0-for-7 passing and carried nine times for 37 yards. He was sacked four times, twice by Maggitt.
If the Panthers’ coaching staff has a gripe, its with the penalties; Dwyer was flagged 7 times for 75 yards.
12:00 — Palm Bay with the ball. Puyol’s kickoff out of bounds. Leroy Berry ahead for nine yards, and Kyle Ferrell finishes off the first down. Hughes’ pass is knocked down. He has not completed a pass yet (8 attempts). On second down, Maggitt nearly gets to Hughes, but is blocked by Berry. Hughes shovels it to senior right end Eamon Ryan for his first completion, a gain of 6. A offsides call against the Panthers gives the Pirates a first down.
Berry gets to the middle of the field, then bounces off a tackle and gets all the way down to the 11. A gain of 45, and a desperately needed big play for Palm Bay, and by far the closest Palm Bay’s been so far. Crowd buzzing. Berry brings ahead for 3, then ahead for 3 again. On third-and-4 at the 5, Berry brings it in for the score. Kicker Sabian Sakley nails the extra point. Dwyer 21, Palm Bay 7, 9:30 3Q
9:25 — O’Leary calls a fair catch at the 26. McClaine charges ahead for 7 yards. Brissett brings it another 7 for the first down. From the 40, McClaine gains 2. From the shotgun, Palm Bay’s Korush Ghaeenzadeh gets to Brissett and cannot bring him down. Brissett has two Pirates hanging off him and dumps to McClaine. A loss of 4, but a remarkable play by Brissett.
On third-and-14, he finds O’Leary for a gain of 14. McClaine goes ahead for 4, then ahead for another 2. On third-and-2, Brissett is stopped short of the first. On fourth-and-a-half-yard, Brissett bulls ahead with a big push from his line. “That’s why they’re the defending state champions,” says the local radio play-by-play broadcaster.
Brissett’s first-down pass from the 37 is incomplete, intended for Clinton stephens. McClaine’s short gain is nullified by a holding call. On second-and-17 from the 45, McClaine gains 2. On third-and-15 from the 43, Brissett is called for intentional grounding after B.J. Ross and Kenon Berry. Dwyer loses the down, and is forced to punt for the second time tonight. O’Leary’s punt is a booming one, from his own 25 to the Palm Bay 16, and Palm Bay takes over. Long drive for the Panthers.
2:01 Berry ahead for no gain, and Hughes was sacked by a host of Panthers for a loss of 3. Palm Bay takes a timeout with 38.1 left in the third quarter. Out of the timeout, Palm Bay called a reverse, and receiver Caleb Alves floated one up for tight end Eamon Ryan. Darrell Hunter tipped it, Ryan tipped it, and Telvince Way couldn’t come down with it. Palm Bay punts. Needed to take advantage of that drive, and couldn’t.
27.7 — McClaine goes ahead for a gain of 3, and that’s the end of the third quarter. Palm Bay has 12 minutes to turn this around. Dwyer gets a score on this drive, and that could be all she wrote.
12:00 — Dwyer looking for a long drive, and a score that could put it away. McClaine goes up the middle for a 20-yard gain, to the Palm Bay 22. This week, Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said he thought McClaine would “get some yardage” in tonight’s game. A holding penalty on the Panthers brings it back to the 32 yard-line.
Brissett completes one to Lewis, and a holding call on Palm Bay is declined. Gain of 17, down to the Palm Bay 16. Brissett sneaks ahead for the first down, a gain of 4. He’s been a beast in the pocket tonight. Offsides on Dwyer makes it first-and-15 from the 18. McClaine takes it for 5. The crowd is very, very quiet right now.
Brissett gets inside the 10-yard line and is forced out of bounds by Elkin. On third-and-6 from the 9, Brissett goes to Clinton stephens, who leaps and can’t haul in an end-zone pass. Holding call on the Panthers declined — Jack Daniels and his staff cannot be happy about these penalties. Dwyer: 13 penalties for 145 yards. Bobby Puyol kicks a 26-yard field goal. Dwyer 24, Palm Bay 7, 8:07, 4Q
7:54 — On the opening play of a crucial Palm Bay drive, Curt Maggitt rips through the line and sacks Hughes for a loss of 7. Maggitt was cheetah-like on that. Berry goes ahead for 2, and Hughes’ pass is incomplete. The stadium is lifeless. A Palm Bay punt from inside its 5, and Dwyer takes over at the Pirates’ 41.
5:49 — Another holding call on Dwyer makes it 1st-and-21 from Dwyer’s 49. Brissett goes ahead for 4. He finds Hunter for a gain of 3. Brissett’s pass to Hunter was incomplete. Dwyer punting for the third time tonight. From the 50, high, arcing punt that bounces inside the 15. Palm Bay has 3:59 to do something miraculous.
3:59 — Hughes finds Berry for his second completion of the game, but he’s sacked by Dwyer’s Corey Smith for a loss of 10 on third down. A fake punt, and Hughes scrambles to the 22 for a first down. Won’t matter now, though.
He hits Ryan for a gain of 8, and then he’s sacked by Leroy Kelson and a bunch of Panthers. Holding call marks the ball at the Palm Bay 14. Hughes complete to Caleb Alves. He scrambles for three yards and a first down. A pass interference call on Dwyer brings the ball across midfield to the 46. That’s 15 penalties for 150 yards. 1:55 left.
Hughes is sacked again, this time for a loss of three. Haven’t counted up, but I think Dwyer is near double-digits in sacks. 1:24 left.
On fourth-and-14 from the 50, Hughes goes to the end zone — a nice spiral — but Eamon Ryan can’t haul it in. Dwyer takes over. Ballgame.
FINAL: Dwyer 24, Palm Bay 7, Dwyer advances to the Class 4A state semifinal.