ORLANDO, Fla. – Speed kills. Blocking and tackling can be pretty effective, too.
Cocoa used a quick-strike offense of the rushing kind on Thursday in a 31-17 Class 4A state championship victory over Jacksonville Bolles at the Citrus Bowl, according to News 6 partner, Florida Today.
The Tigers scored on a 75-yard Bruce Judson run, 72-yarder by Lasedrick King and 70 from Javian Hawkins, surpassing 400 yards on the ground as a team while each of the three reached the century mark.
To assure its fourth state championship, Cocoa (11-1) refused to allow the Bulldogs (12-1) to do the same, clamping down on runners who briefly broke free and making the Bulldogs drive the field.
Bolles came into the game with 10 state championships under 28-year coach Corky Rogers and 11 in all. The Bulldogs last won the state trophy in 2011.
The Tigers had won consecutive titles from 2008 through 2010, but had not been back to the final since.
"We told the players, if you want to be one of the best, you've got to do what the '08, '09 and '10 teams did," Cocoa coach John Wilkinson said. Five years of losing in the semifinals to Miami Washington had not deterred the program's drive. "It showed that we persevere. We were going to finish the mission."
Trailing by more than two touchdowns at halftime, Bolles took the second-half kickoff and drove to the red zone. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to a field goal and then held them without a first down on the next drive to prevent any momentum.
The next time Bolles threatened, Qunelius Phillips saved the Cocoa defense with an open-field tackle to prevent a touchdown.
"We knew they were going to run some trick plays, because that's what they do," Phillips said. "I really thought it was a pass at first, because the linebacker went out."
A fourth-down pass dropped incomplete, and the Tigers maintained control in a key moment.
Cocoa's offensive line took over early, opening holes for Tigers to run the ball through. When Hawkins found daylight and took advantage of it for a 70-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game, it was evident the Cocoa speed would be a significant factor.
"Every time we went to the left side, we had open holes," tackle Ian Newton said. "We had lots of things working."
The Tigers allowed the Bulldogs to go 69 yards and cut the deficit to 14-7 in the second period, Bolles using a couple of fakes to its advantage. That was particularly true on a 20-yard Mac Jones run. On fourth-and-6, he faked a handoff that drew the defense right, but Jones went the other direction and was chased down at the 6 to set up first-and-goal.
COCOA 31, BOLLES 17
Bolles 0 7 3 7 - 17
Cocoa 14 10 0 7 - 31
C: Javian Hawkins 70 run (Alex Petruzzello kick), 10:04
C: Lasedrick King 9 run (Petruzzello kick), 3:55
B: E.J. Porter 6 pass from Mac Jones (Jamey Brophy kick), 8:35
C: Bruce Judson 75 run (Petruzzello kick), 6:47
C: Petruzzello 22 FG, :26
B: Brophy 25 FG, 9:34
C: King 72 (Petruzzello kick), 10:27
B: E.J. Porter 2 run (Brophy kick), 4:40