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Centennial special teams fuel big win over Martin County, Westwood fights off Okeechobee

SportsCentennial special teams fuel big win over Martin County, Westwood fights off Okeechobee

Centennial 14, Martin County 13

In a game filled with outstanding defensive performances, a special night from Centennial junior Isaiah Roberts and a clutch special teams play made the difference in a 14-13 win on Monday for the Eagles.

Roberts returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, had an electrifying 45-yard touchdown catch and in the final 10 seconds, Xavion Griffin and Judah Michel smothered a potential go-ahead 28-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 14-13 road win over Martin County to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Centennial’s Isaiah Roberts (6) receives a pass to score a touchdown against Heritage in a high school football game on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 at South County Stadium in Port St. Lucie. Centennial won 30-0.

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The Tigers (4-2) mounted a final drive with three minutes on the clock and senior running back turned quarterback Monday Pauly Boisvert converted two critical fourth down conversions through the air.

A pass interference call on Centennial brought the ball inside the Eagle 15 and Martin County killed the clock with nine seconds left to give kicker John Connolly a chance to be the difference maker.

Griffin and Michel came flying in from opposite sides of Centennial’s line off the snap and didn’t even give Connolly a chance to get the kick airborne and secured the Eagles their first official District 12-4S victory.

Here are Monday’s takeaways from a matchup decided by one point for the second year in a row with a blocked kick helping Martin County defeat Centennial last year with Mason Smith’s late extra point block preserving a 29-28 Tiger win.

Roberts shows out to spur Eagle win

In 2021, Isaiah Roberts during his sophomore year emerged as a playmaker bound for stardom in an increased role as a junior.

Receiving offers from Charlotte, Pittsburgh prior to the season and another from FAU last month, Roberts showed on the opening kickoff Monday how special he is when the ball is in his hands.

Catching the kick at the 15, Roberts saw a lane toward the Martin County sideline and cut past multiple Tiger defenders and outran everybody to give his team the perfect start.

“Once they kicked it to me, I said, they made messed up,” Roberts said. “I had seen the gap and I just turned on the jets.”

Martin County inched closer with a Connolly field goal late in the first quarter and went on top thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run from Dominic Lucci with 3:21 remaining before halftime.

Roberts made sure his team had a lead at the intermission making another game-changing play.

Taking in a swing pass from quarterback Malik Torres, Roberts lunged to make a shoe-top catch and thanks to a block from fellow receiver Paul Burris was free to race down his own sideline and Roberts made a sharp cutback to split between two Tiger tacklers and scored from 45 yards out to give his team a 14-10 halftime lead.

“(Isaiah’s) a great player, he’s electric once he gets the ball in his hands,” Centennial head coach Josh Watkins said. “We’d got to do a better job of getting the ball to him a little bit more to let him to that stuff like he did tonight. His two scores tonight were the difference in the game.”

Tigers fight hard short-handed

Martin County played with the intensity needed to come away with a win Monday and almost pulled it off but what was most noteworthy was a player who was not on the field that could have made a difference.

Sophomore star quarterback Jayden Vega was not with the team Monday, forcing the Tigers to turn to Boisvert to try and run the offense at quarterback.

Martin County’s administration and head coach Rod Harris declined to comment after the game on the situation regarding why Vega was not in uniform.

Boisvert primarily was used in a zone read scheme with Lucci and Denzel Alexander getting carries but completed critical passes in crunch time to nearly produce a memorable victory.

Defensive back Jake Brush had an interception in the first quarter that set up Lucci’s touchdown run for Martin County.

At 0-2 in district play, Martin County with its 4-2 record will see where they stand in the latest FHSAA RPI rankings as they would need a lot of help outside of the district title chase. An at-large berth likely is the lone avenue to a state playoff berth and next week the Tigers welcome in a talented Stranahan team.

Centennial on the right track

The road win for the Eagles comes at a critical juncture for Centennial and will surely give them a boost in the next FHSAA RPI rankings.

With this Friday off on a bye week, Centennial is still due to try and complete their game from Week 4 against Fort Pierce Central holding a 10-0 lead with less than five minutes to go to complete the victory.

The two teams may look to finish the game early next week leading into another round of district games in Week 8.

Centennial will now prepare for a monster matchup with Vero Beach coming to South County Stadium and if the Eagles get a defensive performance like they did Monday, they can hang with most teams.

Griffin had a big game with an interception to go along with his special teams heroics and Michel along with DJ Dunbar, Joe Shimko, Nikko Lopez and Josh Pastrana all had outstanding nights defensively.

The Eagle offensive line didn’t allow a sack on the night and linebacker/punter Lamar Wilson made possibly the play of the night getting off a punt off a bad snap under pressure with three minutes left to give the defense the stage to end the show.

“The defense played lights out again coming in with three shutouts in a row,” Watkins said. “To come down here and hold them to 13 points, our defense was out on the field all night. Martin County did a great job controlling the clock, we couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. To get out of here with a win, we will take it. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but a win’s a win.”

Fort Pierce Westwood 21, Okeechobee 14

Braylon Vincent ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns as Fort Pierce Westwood built a big lead but needed to fend off a pesky Okeechobee bunch to win the District 11-3S opener for both teams.

Vincent scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter to open the scoring for the Panthers.

Fort Pierce Westwood defensive lineman Chris Pierre emerged with a fumble recovery on a goal line stand for the Panthers to deny Okeechobee a potential tying touchdown later in the quarter.

Miche Estime (10) of Forest Hill High School throws the ball during a preseason game against Westwood Academy at Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce on Friday, August 19, 2022.

The Brahmans would tie the game on a touchdown connection from Michael Burgarelli to Simode Williams covering 50 yards.

Vincent would give his team the lead back, racing down his own sideline 52 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

Jaylyn Monds hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from CJ Weathers to give Fort Pierce Westwood a 21-7 halftime edge.

Burgarelli scored on a 3-yard run early in the third quarter on a fourth and goal for Okeechobee to draw within one score.

Both offenses stalled out for the remainder of the second half and the Panthers held a final time stopping Okeechobee on a fourth and long just shy of midfield to clinch the victory.

Cornelius Wilson added an interception on defense for the Panthers.

The win sets up Fort Pierce Westwood with a likely winner-take-all battle at home against Sebring on Oct. 14 for the District 11-3S title.

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