In late August, if you had told the Fort Meade Miners they’d finish the regular season 8-2, they likely would have been pretty happy.
And that’s exactly what happened Friday night at Tenoroc, when the Miners defeated the winless Titans, 60-0.
But, the reality of the situation is that such a sparkling record still isn’t good enough to get the Miners to the Class 3A post-season. The two losses came at the hands of district foes Tampa Catholic and Frostproof, who both will advance to the post-season next week.
The points came quickly and often for Fort Meade, as they have for most Tenoroc opponents this season. A week prior, amazingly, Lake Wales scored 55 points in the first quarter in defeating the Titans, 76-0.
Fort Meade scored on all seven of its possessions in the first half, starting the barrage less than two minutes into the game when senior quarterback Jay Smith found his friend and favorite target, senior Tobias Culpepper, on a 62-yard touchdown pass just 68 seconds into the game.
Smith hooked up with Malik Mills on a 39-yard scoring strike for the Miners second score of the night, putting the Miners ahead 13-0 with 7:14 to go in the first quarter.
On their third possession, Fort Meade overcame several flags to score their third touchdown on a drive that featured some younger runners, including ninth grader Ladarius Clark and eighth grader Howard Stewart. Smith found Culpepper from 15 yards out for the score. The two-point conversion was stopped, but Fort Meade’s lead was 19-0 with 4:06 to play in the opening period.
Clark helped set up Fort Meade’s fourth touchdown with a 62-yard punt return to the Titan three yard line. The points came on a two-yard power run up the middle by Lavarius Wilson. The extra point was good by Diego Moldonado to stretch the lead to 26-0 with 1:42 to play in the first.
The fifth touchdown was another Smith to Culpepper connection; this one covered 37 yards, and came after a 39-yard touchdown run by Tyler King was wiped off the board by a holding penalty. The point-after kick was good, and with 10:36 to play in the second quarter, Fort Meade’s lead swelled to 33-0.
King broke free from 37 yards out with 7:06 to play before intermission for a 40-0 score. Connor Slay had a 10-yard pass reception from Smith on the play right before the touchdown run.
A one-yard plunge by lineman Clayton Moore who lined up in the backfield on a third and goal put Fort Meade up 46-0 with 2:13 to go in the second quarter. The drive included nice runs from Ryan Fulse and a pretty 26-yard jaunt by Hewitt Grant.
The second half was played with a running clock. There was no scoring in the third quarter as the Miners went to most of their backups to run plays, including sophomore quarterback Jessie Henson.
However, the Miners scored on the first play of the fourth quarter as Henson hit Daniel Watson in the right flat on a fourth-and-goal at the six. Watson took a hard lick at about the two, but managed to stay on his feet and dive to the pylon for the six points, and a 54-0 Fort Meade lead.
The Miners wrapped up the scoring with a minute to play when Stewart slashed his way 13 yards to the end zone.
Tenoroc, a class 5A school, dressed 27 players for the game. They had been shut out four times previously this season, and had been outscored 489-47 going into last night’s contest. The Titans missed one field goal try in the first half, and had a second one in the fourth quarter blocked.
It is the first time in 14 years that Fort Meade did not advance to the post-season. Both the Miners and Frostproof finished 3-2 in district play, but the Bulldogs held the tiebreaker for the second district playoff spot because of their 20-14 win over Fort Meade earlier in the season. Tampa Catholic was a perfect 5-0 in league play.