POQUOSON — It's almost been a given in recent years that Poquoson High would be in the football playoffs come November, but that's been anything but certain during a rebuilding 2012 season. The Islanders killed the suspense quickly Friday in their 33-12 win over Bruton in a Bay Rivers District game at Poquoson Middle School.
The Islanders (4-5, 3-5 district) scored on their first two possessions behind the rushing of Austin Turner (10 carries, 141 yards, two touchdowns) and never looked back. The victory clinches a district-high sixth consecutive Region I Division 3 playoff berth, probably as the No. 6 seed with a possible first-round game Nov. 9 at York.
"We're young, so this will be a good experience for us," Poquoson coach Elliott Duty said of the playoff berth. "You get an extra week of practice, get to bring the JV kids up to get experience and you get to play some good competition."
The Islanders jumped in front quickly behind the rushing of small (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) but lightning-quick running back Turner. Five plays after the opening kickoff, Turner jetted 54 yards untouched to give the Islanders a 7-0 lead.
Turner did much of the work on the next possession, running 28, 5 and 16 yards as the Islanders drove 55 yards on six plays. The latter carry pushed the lead to 13-0 and put Turner over 100 yards rushing with 3 minutes, 22 seconds still to play in the first quarter.
Bruton began to move on its second possession led by Kapri Doucet's runs of 14 and 11 yards, driving to the Poquoson 19 on 10 rushing plays. But the Islanders halted the drive by recovering a Doucet fumble, the first of several mistakes that prevented the Panthers from getting back into the game.
An illegal shift nullified a long gain by Bruton freshman Elijah Rice and was followed by a second lost fumble that gave the Islanders the ball at the Panthers' 26. Grayson Boyce ran to paydirt from 9 yards four plays later, giving the Islanders a 20-0 lead at intermission.
The Islanders ran for 165 yards on 19 carries the first two quarters. That production underscored the improvement made in nine games by an offensive line of first-year starters: Michael Kane, Thomas Cannella, Michael Nestor, Riley Howell, Jake Kenneally and Brandon Peck.
"The biggest thing is that we were getting first downs, so the defense didn't have to stay on the field quite as long," Duty said. "The line executed very well.
"Bruton stunts the heck out of you, and the linemen were picking up the stunts."
The line continued to do its thing in an 84-yard third-quarter touchdown drive that featured Trey Hicks' 41-yard completion on a screen to Reece Thornburg, who capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Duty emptied his bench from there, and Bruton (2-7, 1-7), though eliminated from playoff competition, took advantage with two late scores.
"Poquoson played well and we shot ourselves in the feet with first half turnovers," Bruton coach Tracy Harrod said. "Turnovers have hurt us all year."
POQUOSON 33, BRUTON 12
Bruton 0;0;0;12 - 12
Poquoson 13;7;6;7 - 33
Poq: Turner 54 run (Roy kick), 10:07
Poq: Turner 16 run (kick failed), 3:22
Poq: Boyce 9 run (Roy kick), 1:38