STUART — Sixth-seeded Treasure Coast ousted third-seed Martin County Friday in a Region 3-4S quarterfinal with a dominant 35-7 victory.
Treasure Coast (4-6) controlled the game offensively with a steady running attack while its stout defense held Martin County (8-3) to three-and-outs on its first four drives and for the game held the Tigers to 1-for-7 on third down.
“Running the ball is kind of our thing,” Titans head coach Irvin Jones said. “Due to the fact that we do it so much on offense, our defense sees a lot of the ground game in practice. So, a lot of times, it helps us out on defense as well.”
Jamison Davis got things started for Treasure Coast quickly. He slowly helped the Titans up to the 36-yard line before breaking off for a 64-yard touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead 1:40 into the game.
More playoff football:Jensen Bespanch RB Dennis Pspanlmer scores 4 TDs in Region 3-3S quspanrterfinspanl rout
Other high school sports:Jensen Bespanch clspanshes with Bspanrron Collier for 5A volleybspanll chspanmpionship
George Roberts then pushed the Titans up two scores with 6:34 to go in the first quarter with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Connor Johns. Melik Cooper added another touchdown on a 36-yard rush 10 seconds into the second quarter to give Treasure Coast a 21-0 lead at the half.
Martin County picked up its first and only third-down conversion of the game on a 20-yard pass from Paul Boisvert to Ricardo Weaver, but Jaden Joseph recovered a fumble to give possession back to the Titans with 10:20 to go in the third. Roberts finished the ensuing six-minute drive with a 1-yard touchdown off a quarterback dive to extend their lead to 28-0.
Roberts found the end zone again with 9:37 to go with a 28-yard run to put Treasure Coast up five scores. Weaver picked up Martin County’s lone score of the game, catching a Boisvert pass and breaking a tackle to go 72 yards for a touchdown with 4:02 to go.
Treasure Coast is set to face Osceola (8-3) on the road in the regional semifinal next weekend in a rematch of Week 1 between the two teams which the Kowboys won 14-5.
“To beat them, we are going to have to get better in practice this week,” Jones said. “We have to have a better week of practice than we did last week and we just have to continue to get better. We have to continue to build upon some of the stuff we’ve started this season.”
Here are three takeaways from Treasure Coast’s regional quarterfinal victory:
Davis, Cooper step up in the absence of Emonte Brown
The Titans went into Friday’s tilt without star running back Emonte Brown, but Davis and Cooper helped Treasure Coast control the pace on the ground. Cooper had been used mainly as a linebacker for the whole season, but stepped up and made some big plays on the ground — including a touchdown — in Brown’s absence.
“He ran the ball hard for us,” Jones said. “Emonte is out nursing a small injury right now and we were able to rest him up one more week. He came in and filled in for him pretty good. He ran the ball hard and he is built for it. Running back and linebacker are basically the same position.”
Cooper missed some time early in the season but looks like he is at 110% now. He was running the ball with speed and elusiveness after assuming the No. 1 running back role in Treasure Coast’s playoff victory.
“Jamison always goes hard for us,” Jones said. “He started the season on the shelf for a little bit because he was dealing with an injury. Slowly but surely, he is starting to get back to the form he was at last year so it is a blessing to have him back healthy going into the playoffs.”
Tough schedule helped build the character of Treasure Coast team
The Titans’ 4-6 record can be very deceiving. Treasure Coast scheduled South Florida powerhouses St. Thomas Aquinas and Chaminade-Madonna and those games helped build up a team that has excelled against its district competition.
Its 45-6 loss last week to a Chaminade-Madonna team that has outscored its opponents 457-110 helped Treasure Coast prepare for the grueling nature of the playoffs.
“When you look at Chaminade, they have three Power 5 offensive linemen, three Power 5 receivers, a Power 5 quarterback, a Power 5 running back, you get a chance to see it all,” Jones said. “Not to mention the scheme they played with was like none other. When you play those top teams, you get the chance to see some elite athletes and you get a chance to showcase some of your athletes against them as well.”
Treasure Coast has to limit mistakes going forward
While they still dominated to the tune of a 35-7 victory, the Titans made some crippling mistakes that got in the way of putting the game far out of reach earlier on. Multiple false start and holding penalties stunted drives late in the second quarter while a couple of muffed punts could have swung the game in the opposite direction had Treasure Coast not recovered them.
If the Titans want to make it far in the playoffs, they are going to have to limit those mistakes down the road.
“We have to learn from our mistakes,” Jones said. “We have to go back into the film and find some things that we could do better. We have to find what we are doing wrong and build upon that and we will be fine. It’s all about sharpening each other and getting better at what we do.”