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Tritons come up short 17-10

May 19, 2017
By JONATHAN BLIKSTAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

East Lee County and Mariner battled hard in their spring classic on Thursday at Tony McKenna Field with the Jaguars coming out on top 17-10.

Jaq'uayle Blanks, an East Lee County newcomer, scored both touchdowns for the Jaguars in the first half, but not before giving the Tritons fans a reason for excitement at the beginning of the game.

On the first play from scrimmage, Blanks fumbled and Mariner recovered at the East Lee 34. The Tritons' Hunter Rees connected with Christian Butz for a 30-yard pass completion. Three plays later Rees punched it into the end zone from two yards out, giving Mariner its only lead 7-0.

Rees stepped into the starting quarterback role this spring after sharing the duties last year. He excelled on defense last year, but leading the team on offense will be his focus this fall.

After the Tritons scored, East Lee answered with the two scores by Blanks. After thesecond tally, Mariner took the ball and used 13 plays to go 60 yards. Their drive stalled and Andrew Kibler kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 14-10 midway through the second quarter.

The score stayed that way until late in the fourth quarter when Mariner started on its own 8-yard line. On fourth and less than a yard, the Tritons tried to draw the Jaguars offside on a hard count, but East Lee didn't budge. So Mariner called timeout, and actually ran a quarterback sneak, but Rees fumbled the snap and lost yardage on the play. The Jaguars took over, and ended up getting a field goal. That put them ahead by 7.

Mariner had one more possession. Although the scoreboard was not operating during the game, the refs indicated there were less than two minutes remaining. The Tritons started at their own 25. Quick completions of 30 and 8 yards followed. Then a 12-yard run by Rees on fourth down gave them a new set of downs at East Lee's 25.

On second-and-10, Rees went back to pass, scrambled, then lost the ball. The Jaguars' Blanks scooped up the ball and returned it to Mariner's 20. East Lee ran out the clock to win.

Both teams substituted freely in the third quarter trying to give all the players an opportunity to get into the game.

"Overall, I'm very pleased with the way we played tonight," Tritons coach Travis Smith said. "I'm really proud of our defense."

Asked about next year's campaign, Smith said, "We're a lot better off skill wise. We need to develop depth. We're going to get stronger over the summer. Our goals for this fall are to first win the city. Then we'll shoot for the zone, and if we can do that, then we'll focus on the district."

East Lee was generous in giving up the football. The Jaguars had four turnovers - two fumbles and two interceptions. Mariner gave up the ball twice.

The Jaguars outgained the Tritons 264 yards to 189. East Lee relied heavily on the run (222 yards) while Mariner was more balanced with 100 rushing yards and 89 passing.

East Lee Co. 7 7 0 3 - 17

Mariner 7 3 0 0 - 10

M - Rees 2 run (Kibler kick)

ELC - Blanks 3 run (Najera kick)

ELC - Blanks 47 run (Najera kick)

M - FG, Kibler 32

ELC - FG, Najera 27



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