Emerald Coast Stingrays launch aerial attack on Gators

Tina Harbuck

The pass in middle school football is almost unheard of, but not at Emerald Coast Middle School.

Emerald Coast quarterback Drake Roberts completed 10 of 14 passes to lead the Stingrays to a 28-6 win over the Baker Gators on the road Tuesday evening.

“I saw our guys step up and execute on pass routes better than we’ve been doing … and I’m proud of them,” said Emerald Coast Coach Chris Mayer.

Roberts tallied 191 yards through the air, including two touchdowns with the first coming on the first play from scrimmage.

With the ball on the 43-yard line, Roberts hit Alex Strain on a route and he took it down the left side for the 57-yard score. Emerson Inestroza followed up with the kick after and the Stingrays were on the board in the first 30 seconds.

And the defense shined almost as well as the offense holding the Baker Gators to only 82 yards total offense.

On the Gators opening drive, the Stingrays held them to three and out.

Emerald Coast, starting from their own 17-yard line, scored in six plays. Roberts hit Zane King-Williamson for a gain of 17 yards then went to Ethan Karian for a pickup of 19 yards. Roberts carried the ball a couple of times for a total of 24 yards before hooking up with King-Williamson again for a 23-yard pass play for the score. The kick after was good and the Rays led 14-0 with 2:19 to go in the first quarter.

Baker’s next possession was short lived as the Rays forced a fumble with Deyvi Inestroza making the recovery.

The Rays moved the ball down the field with Strain taking it all the way down to the 1-yard line on a 54-yard gain. However, on the next play, Roberts was picked off by a Gator who ran it back to the 20.

Emerald Coast stopped the Gators again forcing a punt. But the Rays coughed it up on the second play from scrimmage.

Baker made one first down, before the Rays put a halt to the forward movement with Emerson Inestroza making some big hits.

Emerald Coast got the ball back with 19 seconds left in the first half and made one first down ona 30-yard pass play from Roberts to John Matthew Allen.

In third quarter, Baker finally got on the board after a turnover. The Gators scored on a 51-yard run. The 2-point try was stuffed by the Rays.

Emerald Coast took over on their own 37-yard line and scored in seven plays. Strain carried the ball three times in the drive picking up 37 yards, 7 and finally scoring on a 1-yard run up the middle. After three penalties on the extra-point try, Roberts connected with Allen for 2 points on a 12-yard pass.

The Rays scored one last time in the last four minutes on an 85-yard run by Strain. The point after kick hit the upright and fell outside for a 28-6 win.

For the game, Emerlad Coast rolled up 365 yards total offense, 172 on the rush and 193 on the pass. Strain was the workhorse for the Rays with 184 yards on six carries. The Rays lost 34 yards on a couple of high snaps. Dalton Romano came in at quarterback in the final minute and completed one pass for a 2-yard gain.

Up next for the Rays is a 6:30 p.m. game Tuesday in Destin against the Marlins.