STARKE — Bradford County gave up three second-quarter touchdowns and three possessions to lost fumbles Friday, and the Tornadoes had their three-game win streak snapped by Cocoa High, 44-7.
It was a night where little went as planned for Bradford.
For the first 10 minutes, the Tornadoes (4-4) played even with the 2016 Class 4A state champ and 2017 state runner-up Tigers. But with just under two minutes in the first quarter, Cocoa quarterback Diego Arroyo found receiver Jamari Williams wide open over the middle for a 27-yard strike and a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Tigers (5-2) broke the game wide open. Arroyo handed off to Caziah Holmes on Bradford’s 11-yard line on the fifth play of the quarter, and Holmes darted in untouched for a 14-0 lead.
On Cocoa’s next possession, the Tigers capped a nine-play drive with an Arroyo touchdown toss to Isaiah Jones to make the score 21-0.
On fourth and three with four minutes in the half, Bradford thought it was playing it safe, electing to punt from its own side of the field. Five plays later, Arroyo aired it out again — this time deep, to a streaking Willie Gaines — and the Tigers’ receiver hauled it in for a 28-0 advantage that Cocoa took into the half.
“We knew coming in they were going to be good,” Bradford coach Brian Tomlinson said. “We wanted to be tested. We have a young group of kids. That’s the measuring stick.”
To start the second half, any hopes the Tornadoes had of turning the tide were extinguished by turnovers. Within four plays of its first two drives, Bradford fumbled twice. Both times the Tigers capitalized quickly by finding the end zone.
“That hurts,” Tomlinson said. “Unfortunately, we fumbled the football tonight. If we go back and look at our four losses, that’s the thing that stands out from those games — turnovers.”
Trailing 41-0 in the third, Bradford finally got on the board with a two-yard rumble by senior Jeremiah Vaughn. Cocoa tacked on a field goal a few minutes later to complete the scoring.
“It was a chance for us to play one of the state powers and see where we stand,” Tomlinson said. “I want, eventually, for people to start saying ‘Bradford is a state power,’ like they say it about Cocoa, and you don’t get there without playing teams like that.”