DELTONA — Lester Davis agreed to the celebration ahead of time.
So when his Seabreeze Sandcrabs hit 41 points, eclipsing the predetermined threshold of 35 against Deltona Thursday, Davis laid down on a board on the sideline. Seabreeze’s cheerleaders picked it up and held it in the air as Davis cranked out 41 pushups.
The Sandcrabs muscled their way to a 54-30 victory for Davis’ first as head coach. As the clock struck zero, they doused him in yellow Gatorade.
“The pushups were good,” said Davis, a former linebacker at South Carolina State. “It was just the ladies holding me — like, ‘Please, ladies, don’t drop me down. Don’t drop me down.’ They did a good job.”
“It feels like I want another (win). It definitely feels like you get the monkey off your back.”
After the most recent touchdown, Seabreeze’s cheerleaders got Lester Davis to do 41 pushups (for 41 points).
Davis is going for his first win as a head coach. pic.twitter.com/UIHqyVkVR4
— Chris Vinel (@ChrisAVinel) September 29, 2023
Both teams entered without a victory — Deltona at 0-3 and Seabreeze at 0-4 — and started slowly Thursday. Neither scored nor completed a pass in the first quarter, and they drew 19 penalties overall.
But once they got rolling, they scored in bunches, combining for 84 points during the last three periods.
Junior kicker Drew McNerney drilled a 48-yard field goal and a 37-yard field goal to put the Sandcrabs on the board in the second quarter. After Seabreeze recovered a Deltona fumble, junior Hayden Hayes launched a 70-yard bomb to senior Landon Smith for the first touchdown and completion of the night.
The Wolves answered right back with a 4-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Jeremiah Hancock to senior CJ Estridge.
Then came some madness in the final 10 seconds of the first half.
Seabreeze scored on a 4-yard catch by senior Tyrone Cordare to make it 20-8 with seven seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball caromed off a Deltona player and bounced away, with the Sandcrabs falling on it at the Wolves’ 26. A flag pushed Seabreeze back to the 41-yard line, but it remained in Hail Mary range with two seconds left.
Hayes rolled out of the pocket and launched a high-arching pass to the end zone, where Smith caught it. That sent the Sandcrabs into the locker room with a 27-8 advantage.
During the first minute of the second half, Deltona marched down the field with two big plays. Sophomore Desean Fludd rumbled for 30 yards to put the Wolves on the cusp of the red zone before sophomore Damarion Phillips capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown.
Seabreeze tacked on two quick scores, though.
Hayes snuck in for a 3-yarder on fourth down. Thirteen seconds later, following another kickoff recovery, junior Denali Campbell took a short pass 40 yards to the house, pushing his squad’s lead to 41-16.
That clinched Davis’ pushups.
The Sandcrabs added one more touchdown in the third quarter on an 18-yard scoop-and-score by senior Alex Capua.
In the fourth, Deltona scored twice to cut the deficit to 47-30. First, Phillips sliced through the Seabreeze defense for a 34-yard trip. Then, senior Angel Santiago picked up a Sandcrabs fumble near midfield and ran it back.
But Hayes finished the scoring for the night, breaking free for a 26-yard scamper with just less than five minutes left.
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“We have to be a more disciplined team,” said Matt Martin, who is still searching for his first win in his first year as head coach at his alma mater. “That’s the most penalties I’ve ever been a part of in 11 years of coaching. Again, there are some positives about today. That’s more than we (scored) all year. But you can’t beat any team when you spot them 28.”
Here are three takeaways:
Hayes-to-Smith creates 'Big Mo'
“Football is a game of momentum,” Davis said. “We talk about Big Mo' all the time.”
Seabreeze generated some with two long strikes in the second quarter. With a 6-0 lead, Davis saw where the Deltona safeties were positioned and instructed his team to take a deep shot. Hayes connected with Smith for a 70-yard score.
“That just really started the momentum,” Smith said. “Everybody started running. Everybody’s blood pressure was high. Everything was perfect. That turned the entire game. We started rolling after that.”
At the end of the half, they dialed up another heave as time expired. Hayes found Smith again, with Smith grabbing the moon ball while dropping to his knees.
HALFTIME: Crazy last 7 seconds of the quarter.
On Seabreeze’s kickoff, the ball hits off a Deltona player and squirts away. The Sandcrabs jump on it at the 26.
A flag pushes them back to the 41, but Hayes completes a Hail Mary to Smith.
Seabreeze 27, Deltona 8 pic.twitter.com/pqhcK6ZKH4
— Chris Vinel (@ChrisAVinel) September 29, 2023
“It felt like it was up there for 10 seconds,” Smith said. “But that was awesome.”
Drew McNerney is a weapon in kicking game
Last week, during a loss to DeLand, McNerney provided the Sandcrabs’ only points with a last-minute, 40-yard field goal. He attempted a 50-yarder and a 54-yarder earlier in the contest, but both fell short.
Thursday, he came back and drilled his first attempt, a 48-yard boot that had enough leg for more than 50. A few minutes later, he converted from 37 yards out.
Seabreeze led the entire game after McNerney put it ahead 6-0.
He also made all six of his extra-point tries.
“I’m just happy to do what I can when we get into field-goal range,” McNerney said. “… You want your coach to have confidence in you. To know I have a coach that has confidence in me and keeps sending me out there, I do what I do, so I love that.”
Davis said: “That kid can kick.”
‘Self-inflicted wounds’ hurt Deltona, but Phillips stands out
Obviously, the Wolves didn’t obtain the result they wanted, but Martin did think they offered a few building blocks.
He highlighted Phillips.
“Who I think is a heck of a ballplayer and is going to be really, really, really good,” Martin said.
Phillips sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons stemming from a skirmish in their last game but returned in the second and rushed for more than 80 yards. He had touchdowns of 21 and 34 yards.
“That would’ve definitely made a difference offensively, and we probably would’ve put up 50 (if Phillips suited up in the first half),” Martin said.
Phillips came into the game with 147 yards on 34 carries this season. Deltona had recorded only 14 points in its first three games.
Deltona won’t receive much rest, as the Wolves host two games next week. They’ll take on Matanzas at 7 p.m. Monday in a makeup game and play another home matchup Friday against DeLand. The Sandcrabs get to enjoy the full recovery period. They won’t take the field until a 7 p.m. home date with Satellite next Friday.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: High school football: Seabreeze beats Deltona in Lester Davis' 1st win