March 09, 2003

Brevard 43 - Sarasota 14

The Red Eyes clinched their first Florida Division III Championship in 16 years on Saturday, March 9, with a 43–14 victory against Sarasota RFC on a hot and humid afternoon on the Polo Grounds near the Gulf Coast. The Red Eyes, with a 6–0 record and one divisional game to play, exploded for 28 unanswered points in the second half to clinch their spot in the Division III National Playoff Championship Series which begins in April. Their final divisional game is at 2 PM at the Cocoa West Community Center on March 22nd against Ft. Lauderdale. However, the Red Eyes will advance to the playoffs regardless of the result.

Sarasota opened the scoring in the first 5 minutes with a converted try, and the Red Eyes answered right back with an unconverted try by fly half Mike Nevin on a quick penalty play. The Red Eyes, playing against a much larger set of forwards from Sarasota, began spoiling the opposition scrums at will but more importantly, began controlling the tempo in the loose. Tenacious defense, effective rucking and quick loose ball wore down Sarasota's big men and created many scoring opportunities for the visitors. But the Red Eyes only produced a converted try by scrum half Danny Dugan and a penalty kick by fullback Chandler Wilson for a tenuous 15–7 lead going into half time.

Sarasota opened the scoring again early in the second half with a converted try and almost took the lead minutes later but knocked the ball forward in goal. That was to be their last opportunity as the Red Eyes upped the tempo and took over play in the loose. Bill Walker, who flew in for the game from his assignment in Dayton Ohio, opened the second half scoring for the Red Eyes at the 55 minute mark. Virgil Russell and Mike Nevin then combined for a well executed switch move in the loose to score on the dishearten the opponents. John Otis Biggs and Josh Gruner each came off the bench to score converted trys at the wing in the final minutes. But it was the tempo set by the better-conditioned Red Eyes, and led by flanker and Man of the Match Scott McLachlan, that ruled the day and won the State Championship.

Posted by ScottB at March 9, 2003 01:06 AM