Junior quarterback Bryce Norton threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more to lead the Viera Hawks (5-2; 3-0) to a convincing 42-7 win over St. Cloud. The Bulldogs, who opened the season with five straight wins, lost for a third consecutive time and dropped to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in District play.
“We’re a beat up team right now, but I don’t like using that as an excuse,” St. Cloud Head coach Bryan Smart said. “The bottom line is we have only scored 23 total points in our last three games and we are not going to win too many games doing that.”
A good portion of the low scoring on Friday could be attributed to a Viera defense that harassed Bulldog quarterback Garhett King all night. The Hawks’ defensive line got an excellent push up front for the majority of the contest, but would also blitz one or two linebackers whenever St. Cloud went to an empty backfield.
The end result was King, normally an accurate passer, completing just seven of 23 in the first half for 88 yards. He was sacked three times and had four passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
“We knew they were tremendously talented up front and give them credit for coming in with a great game plan,” Smart said. “They disrupted our passing game all night, keeping Garhett from establishing any type of rhythm.”
While the Hawks were keeping St. Cloud pinned deep for most of the first half, Norton led Viera on two touchdown drives — capping the first off with a 36-yard scoring pass to Davis Mallinger, and calling his own number on a 7-yard run late in the second quarter.
It could have been worse at the half, as St. Cloud’s defense came up with several big plays and stops – including forcing two first half turnovers.
Despite a solid St. Cloud defensive effort, Viera would put the game away in the third period. Norton would cap a 5-play, 58-yard touchdown run on the first series of the second half to make it a 21-0 game. He would add a 33-yard scoring strike to Zak Sedaro to increase the lead to 28-0 midway through the third period.
St. Cloud would finally answer with a third quarter touchdown drive of its own. Keeping the drive alive by benefiting from a late hit personal foul and a pass interference penalty, the Bulldogs would make it a 28-7 game on a 20-yard touchdown pass from King to Koron Perrin the left corner.
Perrin’s touchdown was a matter of too little, too late as Jeremiah Housey would tack on a nine-yard scoring run on the next series and Norton would score on a keeper from 10 yards out as time was expiring to for a 42-7 final.
Norton would finish the game 9 of 19 for 145 yards, and added 56 yards rushing. Jarvelle Francis led all ball carriers with 91 yards on 13 carries.
“We knew coming in they had a great defense and we knew this would be a tough game,” Smart added. “Still I was proud of our kids. They were a little overmatched physically, but they kept fighting the entire 48 minutes. I told them after the game, we still have a lot to play for, including a great rivalry game next week against Harmony.”
King finished the game 10 of 36 for 124 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He added 24 yards rushing but was also sacked five times.