The Bruner Spartans dominated the second half to hand the Destin Marlins a 28-14 loss Thursday night in middle school football action in Destin.
In the second half Destin had the ball for less than four minutes while Bruner moved the ball on the ground for two scores.
“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively the second half,” said Destin Coach Ron Griffiths. “We couldn’t come up with a big play.
“And their long drive in the third took a lot of wind out of us,” Griffiths said.
Starting the third with the game tied at 14-14, Bruner got the ball first and picked up one first down before Destin’s Tyler Gilley picked off a Spartan pass at about midfield.
Destin, however, failed to gain any ground having to punt on fourth down.
Bruner got the ball with 4:41 left in the third and marched the ball down the field 77 yards in 11 plays for the touchdown. Bruner used four ball carriers on the drive, De’Ques Raine, Keyandre Fuller, Cecil Youmans and Mike Turner. Turner took the ball in for the score on a 6-yard run around the right end and Fuller was the ball carrier on the 2-point conversion for a 22-14 lead with a second left in the third.
At the start of the fourth, Destin had the ball and failed to get points on the board and again was forced to punt on fourth down.
Starting from their own 30-yard line, Bruner went 70-yards in 3 ˝ minutes for the score. On a second-and-13, Raine ran around the right end, then cut back to the left and took it 60-yards for the score. The extra point kick went wide right and Bruner led 28-14.
Destin got the ball back with 4:05 left on the clock. On the first play from scrimmage, a Spartan picked off a Marlin pass. At that point, Bruner kept the ball on the ground and ran out the clock for the win.
Earlier in the game, Destin got on the board first after Trey Fell recovered a Bruner fumble on a punt return. Starting from their own 38-yard line, Destin scored in five plays. Deonte Sheffield completed a 30-yard pass to Gilley for the score. Gilley kicked in the point after and Destin led 7-0 in the first three minutes of play.
Bruner came right back with a touchdown of their own. Raine broke away for a 32-yard run and John Michael Owens completed a 20-yard pass to Evan Mitchell for a 20-yard gain. Raine finished off the drive on a 1-yard run around the left end. Owens connected with Mitchell for the 2-point conversion and an 8-6 lead.
Destin answered quickly. With the ball on the 49-yard line, Jack Bruner hit Sheffield on a route for a 51-yard touchdown strike. Gilley kicked in the point after for a 14-8.
Bruner evened the score late in the second quarter on a 2-yard run by Raine. The Spartans missed on the 2-point try.
For the game, Destin had 117 yards offense, while Bruner rolled up 348 yards. Destin rushed for 37 yards and passed for the other 80.
Bruner rushed for 279 yards with Raine the workhorse with 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Destin (5-2) will travel to Fort Walton Beach for a 6:30 p.m. Thursday against the Bruner Spartans (7-0) Steve Riggs Stadium in the first round of playoffs in the Okaloosa County middle school football tournament.