By VINNIE PORTELL

Sports Writer

The Venice football team and coach John Peacock want to take their team to the national level of competition, and for about seven minutes against IMG Academy, it looked like they were well on their way.

However, it soon all fell apart as mistakes, missed tackles and penalties led to a 46-7 loss at Powell-Davis Stadium on Friday night.

The Indians stopped the Ascenders on fourth down on their own side of the field on the first drive of the game, and wasted no time driving down the field to score on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Nico DallaCosta to Malachi Wideman for a 7-0 lead.

The Venice defense then forced a punt on the ensuing drive, but DallaCosta was intercepted for a touchdown by Elias Ricks on the first play of the Indians’ second drive.

From there on out, Venice couldn’t get out of its own way as it allowed IMG to score 46 unanswered points. A running clock began in the fourth quarter, bringing the game to a merciful end.

Key plays: Nico DallaCosta pass to Malachi Wideman down the left sideline for a 20-yard touchdown with 6:33 to play in the first quarter gave Venice the first lead of the game.

However, DallaCosta’s pick-six to Ricks took the air out of Powell-Davis Stadium, and the Indians couldn’t regain the momentum.

Key stats: DallaCosta: 15-of-26 for 220 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs.

Venice rushing: 27 carries for 38 yards.

IMG rushing: 37 carries for 388 yards, 4 TDs.

What the outcome means: Venice still has a lot of mistakes to clean up if it wants to take the next step in the world of high school football. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Indians, who still have to play nationally ranked St. Frances Academy of Baltimore and perennial state powers such as Vero Beach and Cocoa.

Quotes:

Venice coach John Peacock: “Playing a team like that, we have to be better. We can’t have that many mistakes. But our kids played hard. I think we showed that we belong on the field. Even though the score is not as good, I think we matched up better than we did in 2017.

“The reason we played this game is to get ready for a state championship. If we’re not playing these types of opponents, we’re not getting better. We’ll be ready.”

{span}IMG coach Kevin Wright: “We have to be a three-headed monster because nobody knows who are guys are. We’ve got a young offensive line and two guys over from defense. It was important to establish the run and we were able to make people miss some tackles.”{/span}

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