Viera dominated the line of scrimmage in its 35-6 victory against Heritage on Senior Night at Viera High School.
By Jeff Navin
The Viera Hawks storm the field for the start of Friday's football game against Heritage. Viera won 35-6 on Senior Night as a running clock was used throughout the second half after the Hawks built a 35-0 halftime lead.
On paper, Friday's football game between Heritage and Viera looked like the kind of game that might go into overtime or at the very least have an exciting fourth quarter with the outcome in doubt.
Two district champions, both undefeated in league play, did not translate into an exciting game as Viera humbled Heritage 35-6. The entire second half was played with a running clock after the Hawks forged a 35-0 halftime advantage.
"We played good; I'm proud of the way the team played,'' said Viera coach Kevin Mays, whose squad improved to 7-1. "I like the way the defense came out after all the festivities and since it was Senior Night. I had a feeling that might happen.''
Sean Atkins, a junior, showed his versatility by scoring three touchdowns in three different ways. He gave the Hawks a 14-0 lead with a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Atkins scored on a 25-yard run and he later caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tim DeMorat to give Viera a commanding 35-0 lead after Max Pacheaco kicked the fifth of his five successful extra-point conversions.
"Sean Atkins has been electric for us this year,'' Mays said. "He's come close to returning a kick for a touchdown in every game for us this season.''
After limiting Heritage to one first down on the opening possession to start the game, Viera took over at its own 31-yard line after a 39-yard punt by Aldan Clark. DeMorat found Quinton Richard open on the right sideine for a 31-yard reception on third down as Richard managed to remain inbounds as he hauled in the pass.
Jaren Lewis ran the ball up the middle three consecutive times for gains of 5, 5 and 4 yards to set up DeMorat's 25-yard scoring pass over the middle to Travis Jones. Pacheaco kicked the PAT to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes, 15 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Viera, which handily defeated Melbourne, Martin County and Stuart South Fork to coast through play in Class 7A, District 6 with a 3-0 record, likely will be the top seed in its region when the state playoffs begin next Friday. The Hawks, who outscored their district opponents 155-14, will host a first-round playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"It's a hard thing not knowing who we're going to be playing,'' Mays said. "There's a new system, and we won't know who until Sunday. All of the coaches I've talked to about it are not pleased about it.''
The Hawks' lone loss this season came to defending Class 4A state champion Cocoa. Viera fell 24-17 in overtime.
Heritage, which finished the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and 5-0 in Class 6A, District 14, will host Carol City of Miami at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the playoffs. Eau Gallie was the runner-up in 6A-14.
Atkins fielded a 29-yard punt by Clark at the Viera 29 and sprinted 71 yards for an exciting touchdown with 1:12 to play in the first quarter. Pacheaco kicked the PAT.
Heritage quarterback Nigel Scott was sacked for a 10-yard loss on third-down-and-17 at the Panthers' 5 on the ensuing possession, and Clark chose to punt the ball out of bounds rather than anywhere near Atkins. The punt netted just 20 yards as Viera took over at the Heritage 25.
Atkins sprinted to the right for a 25-yard touchdown run on first down as the Hawks extended their lead to 21-0 after Pacheaco's PAT with 11:01 to go in the second quarter.
The Panthers failed to post a first down on their next possession as Viera took over at its own 37. DeMorat found Trey Schaneville open on the left side for a 25-yard gain, and a 5-yard penalty assessed against Heritage moved the ball to the Panthers' 33.
DeMorat ran 9 yards on second down for a first down, and he threw a 15-yard pass to Schaneville for another first down at the Heritage 5. On the next play, Lewis powered 5 yards for a touchdown to extend the margin to 28-0 after Pacheaco booted the extra point with 7:18 to play in the first half.
Scott's pass on fourth and 2 fell incomplete as Viera took possession at the Panthers' 44.
On first down, DeMorat found Atkins open over the middle for a 44-yard scoring strike with 4:12 to play before halftime. Pacheaco's PAT ensured that a running clock would be used for the second half if Heritage failed to score before halftime.
The Panthers eventually did score, but it was with 8:48 to play in the fourth quarter after the running clock had been implemented. Clark kicked the PAT to account for the final margin.
DeMorat completed 6 of 13 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. The Hawks rushed for 113 yards on 22 carries, which were split between eight different ball carriers. Viera finished with 268 yards of total offense.
With the running clock in the second half, the Hawks had the ball for just 17 plays from scrimmage in the final two quarters.
Nate Wright led Heritage in rushing with 48 yards on 12 carries. The Panthers were limited to 86 yards rushing on 26 carries. Nigel Scott, who was pressured all night by Viera's vigorous pass rush, completed 5 of 16 passes for 61 yards.