The past two seasons for Jensen Beach junior linebacker Dom Velardo have been as frustrating as it gets with knee injuries not allowing him to make an impact on the field.
But one week after the Falcons surrendered 42 points to Treasure Coast, Velardo and his teammates stymied Sebastian River, and Velardo’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter helped his team come away with a 14-11 victory.
Jensen Beach created five takeaways and picked off Sharks quarterback Chris Harris three times, including Velardo’s pick-six.
With the Falcons leading 7-3 at the start of the second quarter, Velardo sensed a throw might come him way after reading what the Shark offense displayed on the previous play, and his anticipation paid off in a big way.
“The play before that, it was offsides on the offense and I did a fake blitz, and I tried to get him again and the quarterback looked right at me and I picked it off,” Velardo said.
More: Treasure Coast football shows off passing game in dominating win against South Fork
Week 2 scoreboard: Follow games across the Treasure Coast Thursday and Friday night
Takeaways from Thursday’s game
Shark offense never gets in gear after strong debut. In his first varsity start last week, Harris threw for over 300 yards and took care of the ball against South Fork. From the first series Thursday, he never looked comfortable, and it was a struggle all evening for Sebastian River to move the ball. Their first drive of the night started on the Jensen Beach 8-yard line after a short punt and nice return by senior Terrel Hodges, but the Sharks settled for a chip-shot field goal from the 2-yard line.
Run game fuels Jensen Beach early and late. After being kept off the scoreboard last week, Falcons senior Andrew Burnette made sure it wouldn’t happen again as he weaved his way through the Shark defense for a 67-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The Falcons ground out long drives that chewed up clock in the second half with Brunette and strong runs from freshman running back Dennis Palmer Jr. that kept their defense fresh.
Back-to-back close defeats for Sebastian show signs of fight. The Sharks followed a seven-point loss at South Fork — a game in which the Sharks held a lead most of the game — with a disappointing offensive output that saw Sebastian River still with a chance late. That has head coach Tony Perry feeling optimistic for the rest of the season. “The kids fought, that’s the one thing I did get out of it, they fought till the end,” Perry said. “Defense kept the game as it was, we gave up a big run for a touchdown, but defensively we only gave up seven points.”
Falcons secondary comes alive in absence of leader. TCPalm Super 11 No. 2 prospect Da’Quan Gonzales was in action and saw time on both sides of the ball, but tweaked his hamstring that kept him out in the second half. Three different Falcons stepped up with interceptions with Velardo and defensive backs Jeremiah Denaud and Jonathan Wilkins coming up with big plays.