BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Two big fourth-quarter plays rallied New Smyrna Beach past Seabreeze 21-14 at Municipal Stadium this past week.
The New Smyrna Barracudas clinched the district 6-9A title while the Sandcrabs now must beat Pine Ridge and Mainland the next two weeks to make the playoffs.
“We caught a few breaks. Hats off to Seabreeze and their coaching staff. They do well against us every year. It’s always a tough ball game with them,” said New Smyrna Coach Lance Jenkins.
Marcus Johnson threw for 287 yards with three touchdowns and James Clark caught 10 passes for 213 yards with two scores for the Barracudas.
‘A lot of cushion’
New Smyrna (7-0, 3-0) tied the game at 14-14 when Johnson found Clark who went 76 yards for a touchdown when the Seabreeze defender slipped with 10:40 to play.
“They gave us a lot of cushion in coverage. They wouldn’t let us beat them deep.
We just took a chance at the outside. Marcus made a good throw and James made a good catch,” stated Jenkins.
The two hooked up again for another 58-yard touchdown pass, which Clark again separated from the defender with 6:28 remaining to give NSB a 21-14 lead.
“We had a sophomore who is filling in for some injured players covering Clark.
He had good coverage. Clark is a Division I recruit who just made a couple of plays,” said Seabreeze Coach Marc Beach.
Lot of points lost
New Smyrna’s Diamonte Mitchell knocked down Seabreeze’s Connor Blair’s pass intended for Jalen Hinson in the endzone with 49 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
Seabreeze (4-4, 1-1) struck first on Trevaughn Rodriguez’ 13-yard touchdown run to end the first quarter.
The Barracudas tied the game at 7-7 on Johnson’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Diamonte Mitchell on a fourth-down conversion with 10:23 to play in the second quarter.
The Sandcrabs retook the lead at 14-7 when Blair found Jason Hewitt from 22 yards just before halftime.
Seabreeze had some chances. They had a field goal attempt blocked, dropped a pass that would have converted a first down, threw an interception in the end zone and failed to convert following a New Smyrna fumble at the NSB 30-yard line.
“We had a lot of success, but we left a lot of points out there tonight especially in the first half. We have a good football team. We will keep working and get better,” commented Beach.
Rodriguez finished with 74 yards rushing and 105 yards receiving for the Sandcrabs. Blair also threw for 271 yards for the Sandcrabs.
Seabreeze played without two-way starter Charles Nelson who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Mainland, Atlantic win; DeLand loses on ESPN
Cameron Hadley threw for 72 yards with two touchdowns, caught four passes for 65 yards and returned a punt for a 65-yard score to lead Mainland past Pine Ridge 47-0 in a district 9-6A game.
Chris “C.J.’’ Jones ran for 205 yards with four touchdowns to pace Atlantic to a 37-21 win over Tavares in a district 7-5A contest.
JoJo Kemp ran for 210 yards with two touchdowns for DeLand in a 28-14 loss to Jacksonville Sandalwood in a 1-8A matchup. The game aired live on ESPN.
Other scores: Jacksonville Mandarin-14, Spruce Creek-7; Warner-63, Calvary-0; Neptune Beach Fletcher-31, Flagler Palm Coast-3; Lake Mary-44, University-7; Wildwood-48, Taylor-7; Trinity-23, Florida Air-7; Matanzas-14, Jacksonville Creekside-7; Brandon Fish Academy-59, Halifax-24.
This week’s top games
New Smyrna (7-0) at Orange Park Fleming Island (6-2): The Barracudas have clinched the district title but face a tough non-district opponent on the road.
Kissimmee Poinciana (1-5, 0-3) at Atlantic (6-1, 2-1): The Sharks are still battling for a playoff spot. They should win this game at home and keep their chances alive.
Jacksonville Sandalwood (5-2, 2-1) at Flagler Palm Coast (5-3, 2-1): It’s a must win for both. The two teams are still alive for the district title and the playoffs.
Jacksonville Mandarin (3-4, 1-2) at DeLand (4-4, 2-1): The Bulldogs are still alive for the district title and a playoff spot. They will be favored at home.
Prep Sports Seven Football
1. *New Smyrna (7-0), 2. Warner (7-1), 3. Atlantic (6-1), 4. Flagler Palm Coast (5-3), 5. Mainland (4-3), 6* Trinity (5-2), tie 7. Seabreeze (4-4) DeLand (4-4). Others: Taylor (4-3).
*-denotes made the state playoffs.
1. New Smyrna, 2. Warner, 3. Atlantic, 4. Flagler Palm Coast, 5. DeLand, 6. Seabreeze, 7. Taylor, Trinity.