East Lee County capitalized on four Mariner turnovers and cruised to a 49-7 victory Saturday afternoon in a lightning delayed District 5A1 football game.
Mariner (2-3, 0-2 district) started well, gaining two first downs in their first possession, and kept the Jaguars out of the end zone after a long punt return gave them great field position. Then the wheels came off offensively. On three of their next four possessions, the Tritons gave up defensive touchdowns to the Jaguars. An interception was returned 38 yards for one TD, and two fumbles were picked up and returned - for 70 and 28 yards, respectively - for touchdowns giving East Lee a 22-0 lead in the first quarter, and demoralized the Tritons.
"This was a first for me." said East Lee coach Scott Jones. "I've had teams that score once on defense, but never this much."
In the end, East Lee (3-2, 2-0 distrtict) scored seven touchdowns, four were scored by the defense. A second pick-6 happened in the second half.
Because of the postponement Friday night, both teams had to regroup and re-motivate themselves for Saturday's game. Unfortunately for Tritons Coach Chris Siner, a couple of starters were physically spent. Quarterback Joey Lantz and runningback Eric Russaw left the game in the first quarter, and didn't see action in the second half because of dehydration.
"They (East Lee) were in the same position that we were, but they were better prepared." said Siner.
"We made those errors in the first quarter, and we can't afford to do that against a team like East Lee. ur offense was inept, and we were getting beat up front," Siner said.
Jones expressed pleasure in the way his team has turned around since being defeated badly in their first two games of the season.
"Our players' mindset is that we can play at any time and we'll be focused." said Jones. "Our defense is tough. They're playing aggressively."
Mariner's lone touchdown came in the second quarter when they drove 74 yards in six plays. Lantz's replacement at QB, Jonah Markovits, accounted for 66 of those yards. The last 41 came when he hit Rodney Hunter on a slant route, and Hunter sliced up the defense and raced for the score.
With the win, East Lee sets up a huge game against arch-rival Lehigh in two weeks that greatly will affect who wins the 5A-11 race this season.
East Lee travels to Vero Beach next Friday while Mariner travels to Port Charlotte.
Mariner 0 7 0 0 - 7
East Lee 22 7 20 0 - 49
ELC - Kendall Sawyer 38 interception return (Sheldon Fleming pass from David Campbell)
ELC - Peter Gooden 70 fumble return (pass failed)
ELC - Michael Green 28 fumble return(Bryant Richardson pass from Campbell)
ELC - Omaris Tolbert 45 pass from Winfred Ward (Green kick)
M - Rodney Hunter 41 pass from Jonah Markovits (Sean Gartlan kick)
ELC - Sawyer 1 run(Fleming pass from Campbell)
ELC - Richardson 8 run (kick failed)
ELC - Endy Rinvil 30 (kick failed)