One second, Rickards quarterback Charlie Kelly was there, ready to be tackled by two Florida High defenders. The next moment, he wasn’t.
Kelly hopped left on fourth-and-1, evading into the clear for a 50-yard touchdown run on Rickards’ opening drive and the Raiders waxed a stunned Seminoles team 46-26 Friday night with numerous big plays.
“It was just a good read,” Kelly said. “I got a good block from my fullback and after that it was off to the races.”
Florida High (2-2) briefly rebounded when Josh Davis’ 13-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion run by Khari Lewis gave it an 8-6 edge.
But then Rickards (2-1) ran off 27 straight points, comfortably running read-option plays or five-wide sets to get its second win of the year. The Raiders won one a year ago.
“There’s going to be plenty more to come,” Kelly said. “I know that.”
Retaking the lead, Kelly held an option pitch until the perfect time, allowing Jalen Ashby to race 64 yards for a score. Shortly after, Amion Carridine scored on a 13-yard run.
“Our kids are believing in themselves,” Raiders coach Quintin Lewis said. “They really met the challenge of coming out for a big game. I didn’t think we did that last week. They came out and played hard for (48) minutes.”
Shortly after, Kelly was right back at it, reading a corner blitz and calmly hitting Stephen Denmark in stride for a 65-yard touchdown.
The junior even made up for a fumble on a surefire 8-yard touchdown run by eluding three defenders and diving for an 18-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left before half.
“We knew we didn’t want him to break contain,” Florida High coach Jarrod Hickman said. “So we need to do a better job with our angles and go back and fix that. But he made some plays.”
Kelly finished 14-for-22 through the air for 217 yards and rushed 10 times for 97 yards.
“Our offensive coordinator said he wanted us to put up half of 100,” Kelly said. “That was our goal. We came up a touchdown short, but we’re good with the win.”
Darryll Copeland returned the second half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown for the Seminoles, but Florida High’s offense got bogged down. Khari Lewis rushed for 141 yards on 17 carries, but the team also fumbled twice.
Matt Donaldson caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Darius Harvey to briefly pull the Seminoles within two scores, but Kelly drove Rickards, and Carridine punched in the score from four yards out. Raiders running back Devin Head added a 14-yard, bowl-over-four-tacklers touchdown run for the game’s final points.
“Our kids played hard, but we’re in the state of Florida and if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game every night, it’s going to be difficult,” Hickman said. “Rickards deserves a lot of credit.”