Viera’s offense really clicks in blowout win over Palm Bay
DeMorat throws for three TDs, runs for two more in 59-21 win
Viera's Sean Atkins celebrates after catching his ninth touchdown pass of the season during the Hawks' 59-21 victory over Palm Bay Friday night. Atkins also ran for a score.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
PALM BAY – Viera High’s defense has been playing well all season.
Now, it looks like the offense is really starting to kick it into gear, too.
Senior quarterback Tim DeMorat threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Hawks went on the road and defeated the Palm Bay Pirates 59-21 Friday night in a non-district game.
It was the sixth time in the past four seasons that Viera has scored 50 or more points in a game. And the 59 points are the most the Hawks have hung on an opponent since they scored 64 against Cocoa Beach in 2014.
“We started off a little bit slow in the season, but that’s the thing with our offense,” DeMorat said. “You’ve just got to get clicking. Me and the receivers, the O-line, we’re all on the same page. I think we’re just clicking good.
“We’re just going to keep on moving along and keep on clicking.”
DeMorat completed 19 of 27 passes for 325 yards and the three touchdowns Friday night as the Hawks scored on all but two of their possessions.
Although the defense gave up more points in regulation than it had all season (Cocoa scored 27 in double overtime), the Hawks did a good job against a potent Palm Bay offense that had put up 41 points against Titusville in a makeup game earlier this week.
Viera’s defense even scored a touchdown on a 14-yard fumble return by Aaron Thomas that came during a frantic two minute stretch just before the end of the first half that saw the Hawks score three times to blow the game wide open.
“We played pretty good tonight,” Viera coach Kevin Mays said. “I’m proud of both sides (of the ball). I mean everything – special teams, offense, defense … we looked pretty good.”
Both teams came into Friday night’s game ranked in the top 10 in their respective classifications by the Associated Press. Viera (4-1) was ranked ninth in Class 7A, while the Pirates were No. 10 in Class 6A.
But this one was all Viera right from the start as DeMorat and the Hawks continually came up with big plays against the Palm Bay defense.
“Tim did a great job controlling the offense,” Mays said. “I think it’s starting to click for him, which is obviously good for us. Guys are catching the ball. We’re blocking up front. Offensively, we’re good. The defense got tested tonight, which is good. We can learn from that.
“It was a good game to come here. A lot of us (on the Viera coaching staff) coached or played for (Palm Bay coach Dan) Burke. It was fun to come down here and see him and catch up.”
The Hawks certainly got off to a fast start as they drove 71 yards in six plays with Jaren Lewis – who also had a 22-yard run on the drive – scoring from five yards out on Viera’s first possession.
It became 14-0 soon thereafter as DeMorat found receiver Sean Atkins for a 32-yard touchdown pass. It was the ninth time this season the two have hooked up for a score.
“I don’t know,” Atkins said when asked about the strong connection he and DeMorat have had this season. “We’ve been making pottery together in ceramics. I don’t know if that helps or something.”
Well, obviously it’s not hurting. Neither is one of Atkins’ post-touchdown celebrations in which he runs over to center Gavin Lamp, who lifts him up high in the air.
“We’ve been friends for a while now and he just said to do it every time I score now, so I was like, ‘all right, man,’” Atkins said.
The two friends weren’t the only ones celebrating Friday night.
After Palm Bay cut the score to 14-7 on a touchdown run by Tyrese Lyons that was set up by a kickoff return to the Viera 6, the Hawks came right back.
This time, DeMorat faked a handoff to Lewis and took it in himself for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Pirates would score again – this time on a 16-yard touchdown catch by Lyons – but the Hawks would close the first half with a flurry.
DeMorat would throw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Travis Jones to make it a 28-14 game with 3:05 remaining in the second quarter. After Palm Bay’s offense stalled, Atkins returned the punt to the Pirates’ 27.
Once again, DeMorat went up top, this time to Quinton Russack-Cradeur, who had to race and reach out to bring in the 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 to play in the first half.
Seven seconds later, on Palm Bay’s next play, Viera linebacker Brock Holland broke through and forced a fumble that Thomas picked up at the 14-yard line and took it in for the score.
And just like that, Viera’s lead went from seven points to 28.
Jones would finish with five catches for 92 yards on the night, while Russack-Cradeur had his biggest game of the season with six receptions for 89 yards.
“Q’s one of our best receivers,” DeMorat said. “All of our receivers are really good. Q was definitely getting open and I was just throwing it to him. He did a great job.”
After Palm Bay scored a touchdown to open the second half, the Hawks would close out the game on a DeMorat 5-yard touchdown run, a 27-yard field goal by Trey Schaneville and a wild 26-yard run by Atkins who appeared bottled up near the far sideline but somehow managed to break free for the score.
For the night, Atkins caught six passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, ran four times for 39 yards and a score and also had a big punt return that set up another Viera TD.
“Sean’s a real good receiver – shifty,” DeMorat said. “He’s a good receiver to have to throw to. He’s got sure hands. You can hand the ball off to him, you can do anything with him. He’s very versatile and quick.”
It was also a good night for Viera’s offensive line – Lamp, Max Lawson, Chris Murphy, Gio Atkins and Andrew Hart. Not only did they keep the Palm Bay pass rush off DeMorat, they opened up holes for Lewis to rush for 76 yards on 12 carries. Nate DePlancke had four carries for 36 yards.
Defensively, the Hawks got a strong performance from Holland, Thomas, Miguel Rodriguez, James Klaas, Mike Buccieri, Cooper Davis, Kyler Doane, Bear Bollinger, David Eaton, Cortez Reid, Qunelius Phillips, Schaneville and Garrett Kaminski.
Punter Max Pacheaco only had one kick on the night, but he pinned the Pirates back on their 2-yard line.
Viera will hit the road for the third straight week on Friday when the Hawks travel to Martin County for a key district game.
Mays would like to see a performance just like the one he saw against Palm Bay.
“When we get all three phases going,” he said, “we’re a pretty good team.”