MELBOURNE — It seemed like the perfect kind of matchup for the Gaither Cowboys.
A powerhouse running game that led Hillsborough County with an average of 278 yards against a Viera High defense that was thought to be undersized.
But that was hardly the case Friday night as the Hawks defense shut down the Gaither offense and quarterback Tim DeMorat lit up the Cowboys for four touchdown passes on the way to a 55-0 Viera win in a Class 7A region quarterfinal game.
"They’re a great football team," Gaither coach Kirk Karsen said. "I underestimated them on defense. They played a lot more physical than I thought they were."
Gaither running back Jeromy Reid, who rushed for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season, was held to 9 yards on nine first-half carries.
DeMorat, meanwhile, completed 14 of 15 passes for 313 yards along with the four touchdowns to three different receivers. He opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run.
"The (Viera) quarterback is as good as advertised," Karsen said. "I thought the kid at Tampa Bay Tech (Michael Penix Jr.) was probably the best we’d see all year, but (DeMorat) was definitely equal and up to the task.
"He’s a special football player."
The Cowboys (7-4) didn’t help themselves early, getting flagged for a delay of game and illegal procedure on their initial drive of the game.
A successful fake punt run by Kole Tomlinson gave the Cowboys a bit of momentum on their second drive. However, the Gaither offense stalled at midfield, and DeMorat hit Travis Jones for a 40-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 and put the Cowboys in a hole they could never climb out of.
"We came out flat," Karsen said. "It was a long bus drive, a lot of traffic. We came out flat, but no excuses. They were the better football team, and they proved it on the field."
Though it may have been a rough night for the Cowboys, it was certainly a solid season overall in Karsen’s first as head coach.
"It was a successful season overall," he said. "This team hadn’t been to the playoffs in five years. To turn it around in seven months as a head coach, I’m real happy about that.
"We’ve got a lot of things to build off of. I’m sad for my seniors, but they gave it everything they had and they really put this program back on the map."