In the 25th Black and Blue Bowl, Cape Coral prevailed over Mariner 38-24 Friday night in a hard-fought game at Tony McKenna Field.
Mariner primarily has been a running team this year and ran quite a bit against Cape, but the Tritons came out with just the right mixture of run and pass to keep the Seahawks off balance in the first quarter with successive touchdowns on passing plays.
The Tritons took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards using 12 plays and 6:32 to score first. The key play was fourth-and-five at the Cape 10. Mariner had run the ball on 10 of the first 11 plays, so when quarterback Andrew Torres pitched it to Tyler Pigott it looked like a sweep.
Pigott stopped and lobbed a pass to Jaylen Mitchell who was all alone in the end zone for a touchdown.
"Our strategy was to keep their big guns off the field," said Mariner coach Chris Siner, "so we wanted a sustained drive."
The Seahawks responded quickly. On their first play from scrimmage, Dustin Thibodeau raced 77 yards to Mariner's one-foot line. After a five-yard penalty, he took it in for the score.
Compared to the Tritons eating up half of the first quarter on one drive, the Seahawks scored in just 36 seconds.
The Tritons countered when Johntavius Johnson ran back the kickoff 59 yards to the Seahawk 30. The Seahawks were flagged for a personal foul, so the Tritons started on the Seahawks' 15. It took just one play for Torres to find Pigott in the end zone, and the Tritons were back on top 13-6. Their drive consumed 16 seconds.
This time the Seahawks used the clock, taking 16 plays to go 77 yards. They converted a fourth-and-15 at the Tritons' 30 into their second score-Kurt Benkert to J.D. Irons for the 30-yard touchdown.
Each team scored again before half. Cape got a 17-yard scoring run by T.J. Jiles, and the Tritons got a field goal by Justin Kuchle to make the it 22-16 Seahawks at the half.
Each team had the ball for a long drive in the third quarter.
The Tritons' had to be the most disheartening. They drove from their own 22 down to the Cape 7, and, on first-and-goal, fumbled the ball away.
"We had a touchdown called back," Siner said, referring to an earlier play in the drive, "and then turned the ball over. We cannot turn it over and survive."
Had they scored, the Tritons would have regained the lead.
Instead, from their own 5, the Seahawks ate up the rest of the third quarter with a drive and finally settled on a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth.
When Mariner could not drive the ball down the field, Jiles broke the game open with a 52-yard punt return for Seahawks score.
Cape's final scoring drive was only 14 yards when the Seahawks intercepted Torres deep in his own territory. Benkert punched it in from one yard out.
Top players for the game included Pigott, who was instrumental on all three Tritons touchdowns, passing for one and being on the receiving end of the other two.
Thibodeau ran 19 times for 153 yards and a touchdown while Jiles ran for one score and returned a punt for another for the Seahawks.
Benkert was held to 13-of-20 passing for 126 yards with one touchdown passing and one interception. He also ran for another touchdown.
"They were a tough defense," said Seahawks coach Brad Metheny. "We are going to take what they give us. That means we didn't pass as much, and we ran a little more. Overall I was pleased with our defense. I felt it was the best defensive game we've played all year."
The win for the Seahawks in this city rivalry is their seventh in a row. The Tritons still lead the series overall 13-12.
Cape Coral 6 16 0 16 - 38
Mariner 13 3 0 8 - 24
M - Jaylen Mitchell 10 pass from Tyler Pigott (Justin Kuchle kick)
CC - Dustin Thibodeau 5 run (kick failed)
M - Tyler Pigott 15 pass from Andrew Torres (kick failed)
CC - J.D. Irons 30 pass from Kurt Benkert (T.J. Jiles run)
CC - Jiles 17 run (Thibodeau run)
M - FG, Kuchle 33
CC - FG, Johnathan Ramirez 32
CC - Jiles 52 punt return (Ramirez kick)
CC - Benkert 1 run (run failed)
M - Pigott 25 pass from Torres (Tyler Holowell pass from Tobie Lara)
BLACK AND BLUE BOWL HISTORY
Mariner leads series 13-12
2011-Cape 38, Mariner 24
2010-Cape 56, Mariner 14
2009-Cape 35, Mariner 14
2008-Cape 23, Mariner 10
2007-Cape 32, Mariner 15
2006-Cape 48, Mariner 27
2005-Cape 24, Mariner 23
2004-Mariner 27, Cape 20 (2OT)
2003-Mariner 14, Cape 7
2002-Mariner 50, Cape 7
2001-Cape 36, Mariner 18
2000-Cape 45, Mariner 0
1999-Mariner 30, Cape 14
1998-Mariner 50, Cape 23
1997-Mariner 55, Cape 13
1996-Mariner 56, Cape 14
1995-Cape 10, Mariner 7
1994-Cape 23, Mariner 10
1993-Cape 41, Mariner 10
1992-Mariner 10, Cape 3
1991-Mariner 55, Cape 0
1990-Mariner 34, Cape 16
1989-Mariner 54, Cape 13
1988-Mariner 30, Cape 0
1987-Mariner 48, Cape 6