Personal fouls cost Hawks as Cocoa pulls away for win


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Viera High's Davis Mallinger (center) looks for a hole to run through during Friday night's game against Cocoa. Malllinger would score on the 2-yard run to tie the game at 10-10, but Cocoa would score the next 17 points to pull away for a 27-10 victory.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

COCOA – Long before his team took the field for its much-anticipated season opener against Cocoa Friday night, Viera High football coach Derek Smith said the early part of the Hawks’ schedule would help reveal any flaws the team would need to correct before the postseason arrived.

Well, the Hawks definitely found something they need to correct after losing to the Tigers 27-10 at Dick Blake Stadium.

“Our flaw is the discipline of our team,” Smith said.

The Hawks were called for nine personal foul penalties – two on the opening kickoff – which certainly isn’t going to cut it against a talented team like Cocoa that was looking for revenge after Viera’s victory last season.

All three of Cocoa’s second half scoring drives were aided by Viera personal foul penalties as the Tigers broke a 10-10 tie by scoring the final 17 points of the game.

“You’re not going to win football games with nine personal fouls,” Smith said. “That’s not who we are. That embarrasses me, to be quite frank.

“… (Cocoa quarterback) D.J. Arroyo made a couple of great plays towards the end. He stepped up when he needed to step up. We need to get more disciplined. Nothing more than that.”

Viera’s opening drive started at its own 5-yard line after the two personal fouls and was unable to sustain a drive. Fortunately for the Hawks, their defense was holding Cocoa in check.

The Hawks would eventually get on the board at the end of the first quarter when Nick Decker nailed a 35-yard field goal to put Viera up 3-0.

Cocoa would bounce back to score on a 1-yard run by Caziah Holmes and later added a field goal to take a seven-point lead.

The Hawks had a chance to get some points just before the end of the half as they drove to the Cocoa 6-yard line. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Viera tried to run the ball but was stopped short. An attempt to call timeout with one second left were unsuccessful and the Hawks went to the half trailing 10-3.

Viera, which had six personal foul penalties in the first half alone, needed to get the momentum back on its side.

And for a while, it looked like that might happen.

Davis Mallinger scored on a 2-yard run to tie the game at 10-10 and the Hawks had the Tigers pinned deep in their own territory and forced to punt, meaning Viera would likely get excellent field position.

But a roughing-the-kicker call on Viera gave Cocoa new life and Arroyo and the Tigers offense made the Hawks pay by going down the field and scoring to make it 17-10.

An interception, followed by another personal foul penalty, gave the Tigers excellent field position and they cashed in again to make it 24-10.

The Tigers would later add a field goal.

Viera quarterback Bryce Norton, whom Smith said had been battling an illness, was replaced by C.J. Simms late in the game.

But other than a great diving catch by Donovan Giles, a nice catch and run by Jeremiah Housey and a few runs by T.J. Johnson and Norton, the Hawks had trouble putting together sustained drives against Cocoa’s defense.

There was no question, however, where Smith’s top priority will be as the Hawks (0-1) prepare to host Centennial Friday night at Hawk Stadium.

But can discipline be corrected in a week?

“Absolutely,” Smith said. “We’ll get discipline on Monday.”