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Charlotte runs away from Cape 35-7

Strong second half powers Tarpons to win

By CJ HADDAD - | Oct 15, 2021

Cape Coral sophomore Jack Janeway (12) throws the ball during the Seahawks' game against Charlotte Friday night. To view more photos from the game, visit capecoralbreeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

Momentum can be everything in sports and that certainly proved to be the case Friday night as Cape Coral High School fell to Charlotte 35-7 at Dave Warkentin Stadium.

The Seahawks, trailing 14-7 with 13 seconds left in the first half, had a chance to even the score when Damien Miranda intercepted Tarpon quarterback Keon Jones and returned it to the 1-yard line with one second remaining. Charlotte’s defensive line came up with a big stop on the Seahawk rushing attempt to preserve their lead and exploded for 21 unanswered points in the second half.

“Anytime you have a defensive stance like that, it’s big,” said Charlotte head coach Wade Taylor on what was a definitive moment in the game.

The Tarpons came out firing on their first drive, needing seven plays to find the end zone via a 14-yard run up the gut from junior running back Kris McNealy.

Cape (2-5) turned the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession after working into the red zone of Charlotte (4-2), who was stout defensively all night. The Seahawks’ defense provided their offense with a chance to keep working, as sophomore defensive back Darryl Owens picked off Jones for the first of three first-half interceptions, setting Cape up in Tarpon territory.

Cape Coral sophomore Justin Czerniak (20) scored the lone touchdown for the Seahawks' Friday night against Charlotte. To view more photos from the game, visit capecoralbreeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

It was Seahawk sophomore running back Justin Czerniak who found pay dirt to knot the score at seven early in the second quarter thanks to a 4-yard run in which he dove into the end zone. Czerniak ran hard all night, amassing 54 rushing yards on 23 attempts, even completing a 36-yard pass.

The Tarpons needed just two plays on offense on their next drive to regain the lead, as a Troi McClary 40-yard run was followed up by a Connor Trim 24-yard touchdown scamper.

The Seahawks collected their second interception of the half when defensive lineman Mahkai Conway snatched a batted ball out of the air, though their offensive drive ended in a missed field goal chance.

“They put us in position to get some points, and we just didn’t take advantage of it, except for once,” said Cape Coral head coach Barry Bowman of his defense in the first half. “That’s a good football team over there — they’re going to play for a while. They’re physical. They’re tough.”

Charlotte came out in the third quarter with their offense ready to turn on the jets, and that’s just what they did. After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Tarpons marched 65 yards in six plays, capped by a McClary 6-yard touchdown run. Charlotte then forced a Cape Coral punt and on their next offensive series, found the end zone again, this time via a 10-yard run from Nelson Daniels. McNealy scored his second touchdown of the night just before the end of the third quarter on an impressive 38-yard run to cap the night’s scoring.

“We’re a running football team,” Taylor said. “We have four backs we use, and four of them scored.”

He also praised his defensive line that collected countless tackles for loss throughout the game.

“That’s a great group of guys right there. We have to clean up some things, but we’re getting there,” Taylor said.

For a young Cape Coral team, it’s back to the grind and the learning tree as Bowman continues to build the program.

“Our kids are playing hard, and they listen to us, and they do what we ask them to do — they play with class,” Bowman said. “I’m proud of them. I am. We’ve just got to continue to get better and cut out our mistakes.”

Next week, Charlotte hosts Fort Myers (4-2) while Cape Coral is home to take on North Fort Myers (3-4).

– Connect with Associate Sports Editor CJ Haddad on Twitter: @haddad_cj

1 2 3 4 F

Charlotte 7 7 21 0 35

Cape Coral 0 7 0 0 7

1st Quarter

C: Kris McNealy 14-yard run (Tyler Amaral kick); 8:21

2nd Quarter

CC: Justin Czerniak 4-yard run (Joey Viacava kick); 9:58

C:Connor Trim 24-yard run (Amaral kick); 9:18

3rd Quarter

C:Troi McClary 6-yard run (kick block); 10:00

C:Nelson Williams 10-yard run (Brady Hall reception from Amaral); 5:52

C:McNealy 38-yard run (Amaral kick); 2:27