FREEPORT -- With six players putting points on the board, the Emerald Coast Stingrays defeated the Freeport Bulldogs in middle school football action Tuesday night in Freeport.
Emerald Coast’s Noah Ford scored two of the seven touchdowns, one on a 6-yard run and the other a 22-yard dash. Others putting the ball in the end zone for the Stingrays were Nolan Watson, Beau Adams, Caleb Lindsey and Ben Hillman.
Tuesday’s game was a bit different. Because the two teams had already played this season, the two coaches decided to play their smaller guys the first half and then start their first string players the second half.
“It let everybody play a lot longer and it got everybody exposure in the game,” said Emerald Coast Coach Matt Brooks. “I like our first little team.
“It shows we have a lot of potential for the future,” he said.
In the first half, Emerald Coast outscored Freeport 20-8.
After stopping the Bulldogs on their first possession, the Stingrays took over at midfield. On their first down, Stingray’s Watson broke loose around the left side and ran it back for a 52-yard touchdown. The two-point try failed.
On the Bulldogs' next try, Emerald Coast again shut them down with Harrison Guernsey dropping the quarterback for a 3-yard loss.
The Stingrays took over on the 40-yard line and went backwards on a couple of penalties. With the ball on the 24-yard line, Caden Bennett connected with Maddox Porter on a catch-and-run for a 72-yard score. Bennett ran in the two-point conversion and Emerald Coast led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
At the start of the second, Freeport mounted a 13-play drive for their only score of the game. Cole McCormick had a couple of big runs on the drive picking up 12 and 33 yards. Jackson Kruse finished off the drive with a 3-yard run up the middle for the score. The Bulldogs faked the extra-point kick with Pablo Valadez running it in for two points.
Emerald Coast came right back with a touchdown of its own. Bennett connected with Hillman for a gain of 38 yards. Bennett gained yardage on the ground with pickups of 12 and 15 yards. With 11 seconds left in the first half, Bennett hit Hillman in the end zone for an 11-yard strike. Emerald Coast led 20-8 at the half.
With the first string in the game the second half, both teams misstepped early. Both teams threw interceptions within the first couple of minutes with Freeport’s Hunter Lenoir picking off one as well as Emerald Coast’s Ford.
The Stingrays finally settled in and put together a short drive for the score. Caleb Lindsey connected with Ford for a gain of 18 yards. Ford capped off the five-play drive with a 6-yard run. George Gillory kicked in the point after for a 27-8 game.
On Freeport’s next possession, Emerald Coast’s Porter intercepted a Freeport pass.
The Stingrays marched the ball down the field with Lindsey picking up 13 on the ground and then Ford scoring on a 22-yard run around the left end. The extra-point kick attempt failed.
Freeport again struggled to hold on to the ball. This time the Bulldogs fumbled it away with Shane Lane making the recovery for the Stingrays.
Emerald Coast didn’t waste any time. Adams broke away on the right side and scampered 71 yards for the score. The kick after was good and the Stingrays led 40-8.
Emerald Coast scored one last time in the final minutes on a 26-yard run by Lindsey.
For game, Emerald Coast had 406 yards total offense with 238 on the ground. Adams had 92 yards rushing and Watson 54. Bennett completed three of five passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while Lindsey made three of seven for 55 yards.
As for the Bulldogs, they had 77 yards total offense with 75 coming on the ground. McCormick had 44 yards and Kruse 43. A couple of the Bulldogs were backed up for negative yardage.
Up next for Emerald Coast is a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday in Baker.