High school homecoming is a time for festivities, and the Fort Meade Miners football team made sure the party lasted long into the night Friday.
The normally black and gold clad hosts, looking especially sharp in new battleship gray uniforms, had the Emory C. Lamb Stadium cannon firing on their first two possessions and had few miscues the rest of the night too in rolling to a 48-0 triumph over winless Avon Park.
Next Friday, the Miners will take a serious step up in competition, opening their district schedule at Tampa Catholic. Fort Meade has won 14 consecutive district titles.
It took the Miners just 123 seconds to get on the board. After taking the opening kick at their own 35, Fort Meade needed just seven plays to go the 65 yards, the final 12 coming a pass in the right flat to Ryan Fulse who fought his way over the goal line. Fulse had put Fort Meade in the red zone on a 39-yard scamper down the left sideline three plays before the score.
With the extra point kick, Fort Meade had a 7-0 lead with 9:57 to go in the first quarter, but the Miners were far from done in the quarter.
On their next possession, the Miners used their offensive prowess and two personal foul penalties — one that resulted in the ejection of a Red Devil defensive back — to travel 79 yards in just four plays to go up 14-0. A 12-yard run by Tyler King and another 11 yards from Fulse were supplemented by 30 penalty yards before quarterback Jay Smith found Tobias Culpepper on a 23-yard TD pass with 6:20 still to go in the first quarter.
Fort Meade missed a glorious opportunity to make it three-for-three in the first quarter, driving to the Avon Park one yard line on its next possession, fueled largely by a 43 yard Fulse run. However, two runs from the one and a pass on fourth down that fell incomplete led to the Miners turning it over on downs.
But even though they didn’t score on that possession, it directly led to the Miners third TD of the night. After the defense held for a three-and-out, Culpepper field a short Avon Park at the Red Devil 30 and returned it for a touchdown. With the PAT kick, Fort Meade was up 21-0 with 10:16 left before intermission. Diego Maldonado was three-for-three on PAT kicks to start the game.
Fifteen seconds later it was 29-0. Avon Park fumbled in its first play after receiving the kickoff, and Smith found Malik Brown wide open from 20 yards out.
The Miners continued to rip off big chunks of yardage on their next possession, including runs of 17 and 12 yards from King and a 13-yard pass to Daniel Watson, to set up a third and goal at the three where King did the honors around left end to push the lead to 35-0 with just more than two minutes to play in the second quarter.
On Fort Meade’s first possession of the third period, Ladarius Clark scored on a short run to cap another long drive to make it 42-0 with a little over three minutes to go in the quarter.
King capped the scoring with 3:35 to play with an 80-yard TD run.
The second half was played with a running clock because of the size of the Fort Meade lead.
The Miners defense has allowed just one touchdown in three regular season games so far, that one last week at Hardee in an 18-6 win. Avon Park drove inside the Fort Meade 10 with five minutes to go in the final frame, but gave up the ball on downs.