Dwyer struggles in spring game loss to Palm Bay
Friday, May 21, 2010
by Jason Lieser
Looking to defend their first state championship, the Dwyer Panthers stumbled in their spring game Friday night, falling to Melbourne-Palm Bay 26-18.
"We needed a grounding," Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said. "This ain't last year's team.
The Panthers made major miscues on offense and special teams, and their defense - one of the state's best last year - was uncharacteristically porous.
Dwyer pulled within 19-18 after quarterback Jacoby Brissett's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:30 remaining, but failed to convert the two-point conversion on an incomplete pass.
The Panthers tried an onside kick on the ensuing play, but Palm Bay's Kyle Ferrell returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
Brissett finished 14-for-23 for 242 yards and rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown. He hit tight end Nick O'Leary nine times for 136 yards and two touchdowns, but little else went right for the Panthers on offense.
Running back Shawn McClaine had five runs of at least 6 yards, but totaled just 30 yards on 13 attempts.
Kicker Bobby Puyol sent all of his kickoffs into the end zone, but missed two extra points and a 23-yard field goal.
Palm Bay, which went 9-3 in Class 4A last year and could meet Dwyer in the second round of the playoffs this season, executed three 80-yard scoring drives against the Panthers, including one on its opening possession.
The Dwyer defense allowed 15 plays of 10 yards or more and surrendered 155 rushing yards to Palm Bay running back Leroy Berry on 20 carries.
"I'm alarmed because we didn't tackle well, which is usually one of our strengths," Daniels said.
Panthers defensive end Curt Maggitt, the top prospect in the area's upcoming senior class, did not play Friday. Maggitt said he has recovered from his off-season surgery to repair a torn left labrum, but Daniels held him out of practices this month as a precaution.
Dwyer graduated several key players from last year's championship team, including three who currently play for Florida: Matt Elam, Gerald Christian and Robert Clark.
"We saw a lot of players step up, but it's a learning experience," Brissett said. "By August, we'll be fine."
Coaches from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Georgia and Cincinnati were on the sidelines for the game.