Bulldogs crush 'Cudas behind stout defense, punishing ground game
After Flagler Palm Coast’s defense forced the Barracudas into a three-and-out on their first possession, senior Jarien Ramos stood at his own 20-yard line, ready to return a punt for the Bulldogs.
Ramos, who had a 60-yard punt return touchdown in the Bulldogs' preseason game two weeks ago, caught the ball high on his chest. A hard hit by a player on the Barracudas’ special teams jarred the ball loose.
“Most of the time, when kids make that mistake that deep, you take them out,” Bulldogs coach Travis Roland said.
But Roland kept his return specialist in, and on his next attempt, Ramos returned a punt 35 yards into the end zone to give FPC a 14-3 lead at the 9:36-mark in the second quarter.
“I knew I had to bounce back," said Ramos, who transferred from St. Augustine after the 2017 season. "Everyone was telling me to keep my head up."
It was the first of Ramos’ two touchdowns in FPC’s 34-3 win over New Smyrna Beach on Friday, Aug. 31, at Sal Campanella Memorial Stadium. He scored again with 2:38 left in the first half, taking a handoff up the middle 55 yards.
No defenders could touch him.
“I’m fast and I’m quick, and I’ve got a few moves,” he said. “When I hit you with that first move, I’m out of there. I’m gone.”
In addition to Ramos, quarterback Donovan Montoyo was also a factor for the Bulldogs (2-0) on offense. Montoyo, who overthrew several deep passes in the Bulldogs’ season opener against Matanzas, connected for two touchdown passes and rushed for a score against the Barracudas.
“Donovan was hitting today,” Roland said. “If he starts to connect, our offense will be limitless.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs displayed confidence.
Early in the first quarter, Roland opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 — from the Bulldogs’ own 20.
FPC didn’t get the first down, running back Marc Genis was stopped behind the line of scrimmage, but Roland showed the trust he had in the nine seniors that start on defense. The Bulldogs didn't allow the Barracudas to gain a yard on the possession, and safety Marquise Gilbert blocked the field goal attempt. Cornerback Damien Irven scooped up the ball and ran 83 yards untouched into the end zone. The touchdown was called back due to a penalty.
“If I’m ever going to take a chance on a defensive unit, this is got to be the year,” Roland said. “They can stop anybody. That’s our mindset.”