WINTER PARK, Fla. — For the first time since 2004, the Lake Howell Silver Hawks start the season off (2-0) as they came out on top 34-20 at home over the Space Coast Vipers (1-1). After starting off slow, even being down as many as 11 points in the second quarter, Silver Hawk quarterback Cody Veal led his team to complete the come-from-behind victory to start the season off unbeaten.
THE INFO: It was a messy first half as the rain came down and delayed the starting time back 20 minutes. The field was muddy, the ball was slippery and the weather was impacting both teams.
The Vipers were first to strike sending the ball through the uprights for a 23-yard field goal from junior Luke Galloway giving Space Coast an early 3-0 lead. Nearly fumbling the ball on the kickoff, Lake Howell drove the ball down the field. Three straight passing plays, Cody Veal connected with Clayton Ross setting the Silver Hawks up for what should have been a scoring drive. At the two-yard line, Lake Howell coughed up the ball and the Vipers jumped back on offense.
Minutes later, the Silver Hawks’ Brandon Browning picked off Space Coast quarterback Bradley Cantrell. A high snap that forced the offense backwards and a penalty, the Silver Hawks were forced to punt. On second down for Space Coast, running back Johnny Jones put the metal to the pedal breaking free for a 50-yard touchdown at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter giving Space Coast a 10-0 lead over Lake Howell.
Tyson Stephenson of Lake Howell ran his way into the red zone which led to a Veal touchdown pass to DeAndre Gordan, putting the Silver Hawks within four, 10-6, after failing to capitalize on the two-point conversion, with just under five minutes left in the first half.
Space Coast wasn’t impressed and Connor Perrine ran the kickoff return all the way home, stealing the momentum from Lake Howell. The Viper defense forced the Silver Hawks to punt, but the offense let go of the pigskin giving Lake Howell perfect field position on the 26-yard line, nearing halftime. Veal threw the ball 14 yards into the hands of the Wisdom Jenkins for a score and entering halftime, Space Coast only led by five, 17-12.
Both teams were forced to punt to start off the third quarter, but due to a poor snap, the Silver Hawks were able to sack the punter who was forced to scramble in the backfield. Stephenson rushed to the 12-yard line which set up another touchdown pass for Cody Veal; this time to Cody Ross. After the two-point conversion, Lake Howell took their first lead of the game, 20-17 at the end of the third quarter.
Things started to flow for the Silver Hawks in the fourth quarter. Turnover on downs by Space Coast, Veal stepped back on the field up three with ten minutes left in the game. The senior threw a short pass to Kenyonta Skinner who ran free for a 46-yard touchdown extending the lead to ten points, 27-17 over Space Coast.
However, Space Coast responded driving the ball down the field. Although unable to reach the end zone, Galloway sent another field goal through the uprights. The Silver Hawks led 27-20 with only 6:30 remaining in the game.
KEY PLAY OF THE GAME: Cody Veal drove the ball down the field using a huge amount of the time left in the game. Facing 2nd and 24 on the Vipers’ 27-yard line, Veal let Stephenson run again rushing back to back times. The second time was good enough for an 11 yard rushing touchdown giving the Silver Hawks a two-touchdown lead, 34-20 over Space Coast. During that drive, the Silver Hawks went nearly 75 yards and were able to eat up almost four minutes of the game. The touchdown from Stephenson was the nail in the coffin as Space Coast was unable to score in the final minutes of the game. Lake Howell was able to dig deep and come back to win 34-20 over Space Coast.
STAR OF THE GAME: Senior quarterback Cody Veal proved to be the star of the game. Veal threw for over 200 yards and four touchdowns– each touchdown was to a different receiver so he shared the love in addition to putting points on the board.
DID YOU KNOW: Last season, the Lake Howell Silver Hawks went (1-9) and over the past two years, they have gone (2-18). Things are looking bright for head coach David Wensyel and company as this is the first season in over 12 years that Lake Howell is starting off (2-0). In addition to the strong start, this was a revenge game for the Silver Hawks as last year Space Coast escaped at home 10-7. Clearly, things were different this time around as Lake Howell won by two touchdowns.
QUOTABLE: “It was amazing. This is the first time since 2004 that Lake Howell went (2-0) and it’s all on the kids. They worked their tails off and they want to be the change to the program and want to be the team that comes in and does good things here. We made plays at the end of the game when we had to. I think this win means everything for the team, now the kids believe in each other and know what they are capable of and that’s big,” said Lake Howell head coach David Wensyel after the game.
WHAT’S NEXT: Next week, Lake Howell (2-0) hosts Winter Springs (1-1), a team that suffered a blowout loss, 41-18 on the road against Hagerty. As for the Space Coast (1-1), the Vipers host the St. Cloud Bulldogs (1-0), a team whose week two matchup against East Ridge was cancelled due to Hurricane Hermine.
See the story as published first on FloridaHSFootball.com!