In a high scoring two-and-half-hour game, the Destin Marlins came up on the short end 58-42 to the Pryor Pirates in middle school football at Joe Etheredge Stadium in Fort Walton Beach Thursday evening.
What was the difference in the game?
“Their big plays and our lack of wrapping up on defense,” said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan. “(Pryor) did what they do and they do it well. … We just missed some opportunities on the defensive side to tackle.”
Pryor had some explosive runs tallying up 313 yards on the ground, while Destin mixed it up with 204 yards on the ground and 142 through the air.
“Jared Cutts ran real well at running back … popped some traps and ran hard,” Hinterthan said.
Cutts had 109 yards in 13 carries including a 46-yard run for the score. He also stripped the ball from a Pryor Pirate late in the second half for about a 55-yard takeaway and score.
As for the aerial attack, Destin’s Harrison Orr completed 12 of 24 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, a 19-yarder to Christian Harnish and a 19-yarder to Maddax Fayard. Fayard had a total of seven catches for 66 yards and Harnish, four for 75 yards.
Hinterthan said going into the game he was a little worried about how the Marlin offensive line would match up against the Pryor defense. However, he was pleasantly surprised.
“Our kids did pretty well … they gave us time to throw. I was real pleased with the effort,” he said.
Destin had the ball first but failed to make a first down.
Pryor, however, scored on their second play from scrimmage. Erick Armstrong ran down the left side line for a 51-yard TD. Jashawn Armstrong ran in the 2-point conversion and the Pirates were on the board.
Destin again struggled and went backwards on a bad snap.
Pryor brought the punt out to about midfield and the Destin defense shut them down on the second play. Destin’s Paul Venture knocked the ball loose and Price Bowen recovered it for the Marlins.
Destin, starting at the Pryor 49-yard line, scored in five plays. Orr had a big run for a gain of 23 yards. He later connected with Christian Harnish for the touchdown. The 2-point try failed.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pryor’s Jashawn Armstrong picked up the ball on about the 45-yard line and ran in back for a TD. Erick Armstrong bounced off a few tackles to take it in on the 2-point conversion and Pryor led 16-6 with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
In the final minute of the first period, Destin’s Orr was picked off by Pryor’s Jeremiah Clay, who ran it back about 40 yards to give the Pirates the ball on the 10-yard line. Four plays later, Pryor was in the end zone on a 4-yard run from Erick Armstrong. Jashawn Armstrong was good for the 2-point play. Pryor led 24-6.
Destin came right back to put another touchdown on the board before the half. The Marlins put together a nine-play drive. Cutts picked up 22 yards on the first play. Orr went to Christian Harnish for a gain of 10 and then Fayard picked up nine on the ground. Harnish had another catch for a gain of 9 yards. Destin finally scored with Orr finding Fayard on the right side for a 19-yard strike. Orr went to Brandon Harnish for a successful 2-point conversion. Pryor led 24-14 at the half.
Pryor had the ball first to start the third quarter and didn’t waste any time. On the first play, Jashawn Armstrong broke loose for a 52-yard scamper to the end zone. Jonathan Boyd ran in the 2-point conversion for a 30-14 game.
Destin got the ball again and made a first down on a 37-yard pass play from Orr to Christian Harnish, but that was it.
Pryor got the ball back and scored in two plays. Jashawn Armstrong broke away for a 53-yard TD run. The point after failed, but the Pirates led 38-14.
This time the Marlins answered quickly. On Destin’s second play from scrimmage, Cutts cut loose for a 46-yard run to the end zone. The 2-point try failed.
At the start of the fourth, Pryor had picked off another Destin pass. Starting at the Pryor 5-yard line, Erick Armstrong found a whole and took off down the left side line for a 95-yard score. The 2-point try failed.
On Destin’s next possession, Orr was picked for a pick-six by Pryor’s Boyd who ran it back for a 55-yard Pirate TD. Pryor led 50-20 with 7:55 to go.
Destin came back with a TD of its own. Cutts had a run for 15 yards and Orr hit Fayard for pick up of 14 yards. Orr ran the ball for a gain of 23 and then called his number again taking it in from 7 yards out for the score. Orr hit Christian Harnish for the 2-point conversion and a 50-28 game.
On Pryor’s next possession, Destin’s Cutts stripped the ball away and took it home for a 55-yard TD for a 50-34 game with 4:50 left to play.
Pryor came right back with Jashawn Armstrong running up the middle for a 45-yard strike. He also scored the 2-point conversion.
Destin had the ball one last time and put together an eight-play drive for the score. Orr capped it off on an 8-yard run. He then went to Fayard for the 2-point conversion. Destin lost 58-42.
“We’ve got to go back to fundamentals … we’ve got to tackle, wrap up and run to the ball,” Hinterthan said.
Up next for the 2-2 Destin Marlins is a 6:30 p.m. game at home against the Lewis Falcons.