Hawks humbled in first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay Tech


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Viera quarterback Bryce Norton takes off on what would become a 38-yard touchdown run during Friday night's Class 7A regional quarterfinal against Tampa Bay Tech. Unfortunately for the Hawks, this one was all Titans. Tampa Bay Tech won 52-13.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The Viera High football season came to an end in humbling fashion Friday night.

Unable to stop a Tampa Bay Tech offense that scored 42 second quarter points, the Hawks lost their Class 7A regional quarterfinal 52-13 at Hawk Stadium.

It was the final game for Viera seniors Danny Steen; Connor Kennedy; Cooper Davis; D’Andre Lewis; Eric Diaz; Jarvelle Francis; Andrew Hart; Colben Maher; Nick Decker; Aiden Ferrer; Mads Jensen and Lorenzo Thomas.

A Viera team that started the season with thoughts of making a deep postseason run ended the season with a 6-4 record.

The Hawks simply couldn’t get anything done on either side of the ball against a talented Tampa Bay Tech team (7-3) that will move on to play No. 2 seed – and defending state champ – Lakeland in the regional semifinals.

The Hawks were in trouble from the start as an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown by Davis Mallinger was wiped out by a penalty and Viera couldn’t generate any kind of offense.

Viera quarterback Bryce Norton was under constant pressure all game long and while the Hawks’ running game had a couple of solid gains, it failed to get in any kind of rhythm, too.

Tampa Bay Tech, meanwhile, was able to take advantage of its tall, quick and physical receivers. The Titans repeatedly hit open receivers who broke through arm tackles and created big play after big play.

Trailing 31-0, the Hawks finally got on the board when Norton broke loose for a 38-yard touchdown run.

After another Tampa Bay Tech touchdown, Norton hit Davis with a 3-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 38-13.

Tampa Bay Tech would score once more just before the half to make it 45-13, then blocked a Viera punt on the opening drive of the fourth quarter to set up a 9-yard touchdown run.

That made the score 52-13 and with the game so far out of reach, it became a running clock situation.

Things would only get uglier from there.

With 1:35 remaining in the third quarter, a Tampa Bay Tech player was injured after being slammed to the ground.

The player was eventually taken away in an ambulance and the game was never restarted.

“I’m not gong to talk about the football game, I just want to make sure this kid’s all right,” Viera coach Derek Smith said. “That’s all I’m worried about.”