The pass-reliant Estero Wildcats turned to runningback Eric McFadden Friday night to help them defeat Mariner 27-14 in a District 5A-11 game at Estero.
McFadden had a stellar game, rushing for 286 yards on 42 carries with three touchdowns. The yardage total beat his personal best by more than 100 yards.
The rain, which caused the postponement of three other Lee County games, continued at varying levels of intensity throughout the game. A brief spell of lightning led to a delay at halftime.
As expected, the conditions led to very sloppy play, with 10 fumbles, including seven by the Tritons (2-6, 0-4 district)
McFadden successfully held onto the ball. His first touchdown came on the opening drive of the game, as he plunged in from one yard out. Mariner tied the game early in the second quarter, taking advantage of prime field position created by a Ryan Sides interception.
McFadden put the Wildcats (5-3, 3-1) back on top by slogging for a two-yard touchdown run just three minutes later.
His third touchdown was the best of the night. McFadden swept right, then saw an opening and made a quick 90-degree turn, running 13 yards into the end zone.
"When we saw the rain, we knew that we were going to put a lot on Eric," Wildcats coach Rich Dombrowski said. "It's tough to throw in this. We tried, and it doesn't fit our offense. So we knew we were going to do it, and we told the offensive line to step up, and they did a great job."
The only non-McFadden touchdown came in the third quarter, when Sides found Zach Culvahouse to his right. The receiver caught the ball, ran into the end zone, and fell into a puddle.
Sides went 9-for-16 passing for 148 yards. Justin Milcetich was the leading receiver with five catches for 65 yards.
Mariner 0 7 0 7 - 14
Estero 7 14 6 0 - 27
E - McFadden 1 run (Phillips kick)
M - Mitchell 2 run (Kuchle kick)
E - McFadden 2 run (Phillips kick)
E - McFadden 13 run (Phillips kick)
E - Culvahouse 8 pass from Sides (kick blocked)
M - McAmis 1 run (Kuchle kick)