Second-half flurry sends Eau Gallie past Holy Trinity


Holy Trinity's Kevin Chandler scored on a 37-yard touchdown run, but Eau Gallie scored the game's final 26 points to pull away for a 33-7 victory Friday night at the Tiger Athletic Complex.

VIERA VOICE Caroline Layman

It should be a rivalry -- only time will tell. Less than five miles separates Eau Gallie High School from Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.

On Friday, Class 3A Holy Trinity learned that it not only needs to be healthy when it faces the Commodores. It also needs to play its best.

Eau Gallie, which competes in the ultra-competitive Class 5A, District 9, outscored Holy Trinity 20-0 in the second half to humble the host Tigers 33-7 in the second game played on Holy Trinity’s new football field.

“I don’t know what happened in that second half,’’ said Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks Jr., whose squad fell to 3-2 overall and 0-2 at the Tiger Athletic Complex. The Tigers lost 14-7 in overtime last week to Space Coast in their home opener on the new, artificial turf field.

“For the first time, I’m at a loss for words.’’

The second-half shellacking might have been set up on the first possession of the game when the Commodores ran the ball six consecutive times to take a 7-0 lead on Jordan Blackmon’s 24-yard touchdown run and Sean Devers’ extra-point kick. The scoring drive took just 2 minutes, 41 seconds.

Eau Gallie, which likes to throw the ball with reckless abandon, showed it could play smash-mouth football and be successful.

Blackmon finished with 95 yards rushing on 11 carries. He also intercepted a pass from Holy Trinity’s Ja’Lon Hudgins and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. After Devers kicked the extra point, the Commodores held a commanding 26-7 lead.

Dink Jackson added 66 yards rushing on 10 carries, but it was the passing of Cade Ross which eventually wore down Holy Trinity.

Ross completed 19 of 32 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.

The Commodores finished with 449 yards of total offense.

“Eau Gallie controlled the line of scrimmage,’’ said Hooks, who hopes his team can get back on track with a 7 p.m. home game next Friday against Trenton.

“We had first-half opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. Against a bigger team that is more physical and is a bigger school (in enrollment), you’ll lose 33-7 if you don’t take advantage of those chances.”

One of those opportunities came on its first possession as Holy Trinity sought to tie the score.

Hudgins found Demetrius Robinson open over the middle for a 50-yard strike on first down as the Tigers moved from their own 35 to the Commodores’ 15.

A bad snap out of the shotgun on the ensuing play was recovered by Eau Gallie. Holy Trinity struggled with its long snapping several times during the contest.

Four plays later, Holy Trinity recovered a fumble by Eau Gallie to take over at the Commodores’ 45.

Larry Hill ran to the right for 8 yards, and Kevin Chandler followed with a 37-yard scoring run to the right. James Linnabary kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:04 to play in the first quarter.

Hill later was injured early in the second quarter and came out of the game for a few minutes. Although he returned, he never was quite the same as he finished with 66 yards on 14 carries.

Ross threw a 33-yard scoring strike down the left sideline to Jayden Campbell to give the Commodores a 13-7 advantage with 2:21 to play in the second quarter. The PAT was blocked.

Early in the second quarter, Holy Trinity stopped Jackson at the 1 on fourth down. It also blocked Devers’ 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half.

Kameron Blevins caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ross with 4:47 to play in the third quarter. Blevins caught eight passes for 124 yards.

Campbell, who finished with 10 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Ross to conclude the scoring with 1:51 remaining in the game. Devers added the extra point.

Hudgins, who struggled to receive the snap from center out of the shotgun throughout the game, completed just 2 of 14 passes for 49 yards. Some of his passes also were dropped by his receivers.

Chandler finished with 153 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Eau Gallie was assessed 11 penalties for 120 yards. Holy Trinity was penalized 12 times for 83 yards.

“Out of a roster of 24, we had five guys out,’’ Hooks said. “That’s 10 starters (two-way players).’’

Last year, Holy Trinity lost 10-0 to Merritt Island in a road game in which the game was scoreless until nearly the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Merritt Island, Eau Gallie, Rockledge, Palm Bay and Atlantic all play in Class 5A, District 9.