When the stadium lights came back on after a 50-minute delay, Mainland came alive to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Travis Roland is not afraid of the dark.
When the stadium lights went out early in the third quarter of Mainland's playoff game with Eau Gallie, the Bucs coach knew exactly what to do.
"I've got experience in it," he quipped.
It's now happened to his teams three times in three years — against Madison County when Roland was Flagler Palm Coast's coach in 2020, at FPC last year when Roland was in his first season as Mainland's coach and against Eau Gallie at Daytona Stadium on Monday, Nov. 14, in a Region 3-3S quarterfinal.
This time, a blown transformer delayed the game for 50 minutes with Mainland trailing 14-6. Roland, whose squad fell to FPC last year in a black-out game, knew what to do.
"We actually separated our guys into their position groups. Because at FPC there was too much chaos. We were all spread out. This time around, we handled it different."
— TRAVIS ROLAND, Mainland football coach
"We actually separated our guys into their position groups," Roland said. "Because at FPC there was too much chaos. We were all spread out. This time around, we handled it different."
The Bucs were driving for a touchdown when the stadium went dark. When play resumed, Ajai Harrell ran for a short a touchdown and Mainland remained in control the rest of the half to turn away the visiting Commodores, 28-14.
The fourth-seeded Bucs (8-3) will now go on the road for a regional semifinal Saturday, Nov. 19, against No. 1 seed Rockledge. The Raiders (9-2) held on to a 13-12 win against eighth seed Satellite on Nov. 11 to advance.
"It's going to be a tough game on the road, but we can get it done," said Mainland quarterback Damarcus Creecy. "We just have execute more consistently."
Creecy threw touchdown passes to Harrell and James Randle and ran for a 27-yard score. The Bucs also had three touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Roland said the Rockledge game might be called differently by the officials.
"You have a different set of referees, they may let you play different," he said. "So those no touchdowns can be touchdowns. I'm glad to see us moving the ball and handling our business, so the biggest thing is just making sure we do what we're supposed to do — play mistake-free football. We'll fix those penalties. And I think we do a pretty good job of it in practice. We can't control ticky-tack football though."
The Commodores (7-4) scored both of their touchdowns on long pass plays from sophomore quarterback Jamari Crooms. University of Miami recruit Robert Stafford caught an 89-yard touchdown pass to put the visitors up 7-6 with 7:30 left before halftime. And sophomore DL Hardison, who has already committed to Florida State, caught an 82-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the third quarter.
"The play after halftime was just busted coverage," Roland said. "If we don't bust coverage, it's hard to beat us. Stafford made a good play on Zavier Mincey, and we'll live with it. Zavier is going to be one-on-one because he's that good, and if you beat him we tip our cap to you."