MARCO ISLAND — Big plays were the difference Wednesday night as first-year team Marco Island Academy fell 18-15 to St. John Neumann’s junior varsity squad at Winterberry Park.
The teams were well balanced as both sides had mostly freshmen and sophomores.
The Celtics’ first scoring drive started after they stopped the Manta Rays, taking over on downs in the first quarter on their own 13. Seven minutes later, the Celtics completed an 87-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard pass from Nick Prisco to wide receiver Paul Reisinger.
The two-point conversion try failed, giving the Celtics a 6-0 lead with 7:13 left in the second quarter.
With Peter Jean-Marie and Jacob Clark sharing the running load, it appeared the Celtics were on the way to a second score when MIA’s Peter Servente intercepted a pass at the Academy 15-yard line and returned it 65 yards to the Celtics’ 20.
With 1:10 left in the half, Nick Dotson hammered would-be tacklers on his way to the team’s first-ever score. Servente kicked the extra point, giving the Manta Rays a 7-6 lead at halftime.
Just two minutes into the third quarter Clark broke off a 65-yard punt return for a score to give the Celtics the lead at 12-7 after the two-point try failed.
Neumann further extended its lead on a blocked punt that rolled into the Academy’s end zone, where defensive lineman Logan Rios fell on the ball for the score and an 18-6 advantage.
A bone-crushing 27-yard run by Dotson set up the Manta Rays on the Celtics 23, but Marco suffered a 12-yard loss running out of the wildcat.
Reeves Carlisle then hooked up with Servente on a 37-yard pass play to get down to the Celtics’ 8-yard line. A horse-collar tackle penalty against SJN advanced the Rays to the 4, where Carlisle scored on a quarterback sneak. Carlisle also ran in the conversion to bring the Academy within 18-15 with 4:55 to play.
But the Celtics made two critical first downs to run out the clock.
For the game, Colby Jones, Noel Cabrera, Carlisle, Servente, Dylan Rogers and Marcus Seidman and Alex Excel, who had an interception, played well on defense for the Rays, while Dotson rushed for 132 yards.
The Celtics had solid offensive play by Costain, Clark and Jean-Marie. Defensively. Rios, Parker Osburn and David Bodewig led the team.
NEUMANN JV 18, MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY 15
SJN 6 0 12 0 — 18
MIA 0 7 0 8 — 15
SJN — Reisinger 9 pass from Pricso (run failed), 7:13
MIA — Dotson 20 run (Servente kick), 1:10
SJN — Clark 65 punt return (run failed), 8:07
SJN — Rios fumble recovery (run failed), 6:52
MIA — Carlisle 2 run (Carlisle run), 1:10