Although the Destin Marlins got pummeled on the scoreboard 47-7 by the Bruner Spartans in middle school football Thursday night at Steve Riggs Stadium in Fort Walton Beach, they didn't give up.
"I thought they played better," said Destin Coach Demetris Stevens. "It's got to be a one-week-at-a-time thing. And if they keep working hard, the win will come."
But Thursday night was not the night for a Destin victory.
The Spartans struck first and often throughout the night. Cecil Youmans returned the opening kickoff for 60 yards and then quarterback Sage Chambers took it on in three plays later on a 1-yard plunge up the middle. Chambers was good for the 2-point conversion as well.
Destin failed to make a first down and had to punt. Four plays later, the Spartans were in the end zone again on a 38-yard run by Chambers. Ladonte Cowart kicked in the point after.
On the Marlins next possession, quarterback Brady Ooten was intercepted by Cowart on the second down.
Bruner put together an eight-play drive, picking up a couple of penalties along the way, and scored on a 4-yard run by Jeremiah Tyler. The kick after was good and Bruner led 29-0.
The Spartans stopped Destin again and then turned and scored on a 13-yard run by DeDe Raine.
On the kickoff, Destin's Nick Sherer had a 35-yard return. With time running out on the first half, the Marlins picked up their first first down but came up short of the end zone for a 35-0 deficit at the half.
In the third quarter, Destin went three and out on their first possession, but then stopped Bruner.
Destin's Ryan Romair picked off a Bruner pass and returned it about 10 yards.
The Marlins bubble was soon popped when Bruner returned the favor. On the very next play, a Spartan picked off an Ooten pass and returned it for a 68-yard score and a 41-0 lead.
On the Marlins next possession, Ooten rushed for 12 yards and a first down, but later had to punt it away.
Bruner scored one last time on a 9-yard run for a 47-0 advantage.
With a running clock rolling in the fourth quarter, Destin didn't quit. Ooten connected with Romair for a 43-yard gain. Sherer picked up a couple of yards putting the ball on the 1. With 31 seconds left in the game, Callahan Phillips punched it in the end zone. Madi Phillips, Destin's first girl player, booted it through the uprights and the Marlins got on the board.
Looking back at the game, Coach Stevens looked on the bright side.
"We didn't get down, they kept punching and scored in the last few seconds," Stevens said.
"We're coming together and looking better on defense. We've just got to keep moving forward."
Up next for the Marlins is a 6:30 p.m. game at home against Ruckel Middle School of Niceville.