EAST LAKE — East Lake found itself in a bit of trouble going into the third quarter against Vero Beach. The Indians, on their opening drive of the second half, marched down the field and took a 22-21 lead when running back Dentist Hall punched it in from 4 yards.
The Eagles' defense has been a topic of scrutiny over the course of the season, but they answered in a huge way.
"That's the whole thing, momentum," East Lake coach Bob Hudson said. "These kids rallied and they're resilient."
East Lake (8-3) shut Vero Beach down the rest of the way Friday, winning 41-22 in Class 8A and moving on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
The Eagles started fast, as Pete DiNovo found Artavis Scott on a quick slant, and Scott ran through defenders for an 86-yard touchdown. DiNovo found tight end Stephen Buric in the back of the end zone from 6 yards on the next possession for a 14-0 lead.
With East Lake down 22-21, Khol Lilley beat the Indians offensive line to sack Nick Madden. Tyler Lane followed with a 20-yard touchdown run, giving the Eagles a 27-22 lead after a failed 2-point try.
"I didn't think they could stop me," Lane said. "Me and my line, and my fullback (Tyler) Carbonelli, they weren't ready for us."
East Lake's defense swarmed Vero (9-2) on fourth and inches, and DiNovo scored on a sneak seven plays later. An interception by Brendan Goettel stopped Vero's next possession.
On fourth and 3 from the Eagles' 33-yard line, Hudson went for it. Lane ran off-tackle for a 7-yard gain, then he capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to finish the scoring.
"Ultimately, I have to make the decision, so I lined my offense and went," Hudson said. "I'm happy with the ground game there at the end. We were able to kill the clock out, and that's something we weren't able to do earlier in the year."