The first drive of the game wasn’t crisp for Wakulla’s football team Saturday morning as it re-visited Florida High, where Friday night’s game was postponed by inclement weather.
But War Eagles quarterback Feleipe Franks said it was just a result of typical football, not any lingering effects from changing game times.
After a punt, Wakulla only punted twice more the rest of the game, turning four Seminoles’ turnovers into 17 points in a 37-14 victory. War Eagles running back Malik Thomas scored his team’s first three touchdowns, and Franks caught fire with receiving brother Jordan Franks in the second half to lead the season-opening win.
“If they don’t have a couple turnovers, it’s a different game,” Wakulla coach Scott Klees said. “Our guys came out and responded well. … New guys are playing to have a chance to start. We’re really proud of Malik, catching one (touchdown) and running for two.”
Florida High put together a strong second drive and had a chance to take the lead and put pressure on its opponent when running back Jay Robinson sprinted to paydirt, but he fumbled into the end zone and Wakulla recovered. The Seminoles (0-1) never did.
“I feel good that we’re not far off, but at the end of the day you either make those plays or you don’t,” Florida High coach Jarrod Hickman said. “There’s five, six, seven plays, a handful of plays that will make a game. You just don’t know what those plays are. You have to make those plays when it presents itself. When we do that, I believe we have a good football team.”
Franks and a trio of running back moved the ball down the field quickly and Thomas scored his first of two touchdowns on right sweeps.
Florida High quarterback Ronnie Harrison’s 2-yard keeper did tie the game briefly, but Franks (15 for 24, 224 yards) pushed Wakulla quickly to retake the lead, before a Harrison interception set up Franks’ quick slant to Thomas for a 35-yard score and 21-7 lead at the break.
“We’re mixing it up, throwing and running a little different than Wakulla’s normal pound it, pound it,” Klees said. “We have to be able to throw it this year with the talent at quarterback we’ve got and the talent at receiver we’ve got with (Keith) Gavin and Franks.”
Antonio Morris rumbled 29 yards for a Wakulla touchdown to open the third quarter and Franks kicked a 29-yard field goal following an interception to open a 31-7 lead.
Robinson scored on a 10-yard run to cut the gap, and Florida High was looking to force a punt and get momentum back on its side with plenty of time left.
But Franks to Franks become an impossible connection to deny. The sophomore quarterback and senior wideout picked up 25-yard gains on two third-and-long plays, then finished the drive with a 22-yard touchdown strike.
“I know I can trust my brother,” Feleipe said. “We throw all the time in the yard. We called a nine-route, a go route and I knew I could trust him down the sideline (for a conversion).”
Jordan Franks caught seven passes for 142 yards. Wakulla will host Navarre next week, while Florida High travels to Panama City to take on Arnold.
The Maclay Marauders were tied 6-6 with Liberty County in the second half on Friday. Following a 30-minute lightning delay, however, the Marauders lost their footing. The home Bulldogs erupted for 21 unanswered points and upended Maclay, 40-13.
This is the Marauders’ first season in FHSAA district play after playing as an independent. They are in District 2-3A, joining two-time state champion Trinity Catholic, Father Lopez and P.K. Yonge.
Class A Liberty County fell to eventual state champion Northview in the state semifinals last season.
“It’s going to be very competitive, but we knew that going in,” Maclay coach Kyler Hall said.
“I thought we played very well defensively in the first half, doing everything we were supposed to do. It was a physical, competitive game. Liberty County is extremely well-coached. We just never got anything going offensively, and we just kind of fell apart during that stretch in the second half.”
The Marauders lost starting linebacker/running back Stephon Simpkins early in the game to injury. Senior Matthew Weaver kicked a pair of field goals and Teddy Transou scored a late touchdown for the Marauders.
Maclay travels to Mayo Lafayette on Friday.
Port St. Joe 45, Wewa 20
The Sharks racked up more than 420 yards of total offense, 360 rushing, in their season-opening win.
Natrone Lee led the onslaught with 175 rushing yards. Dwayne Griggs added 61 yards and a touchdown rushing and a 51-yard touchdown reception.
John Paul II-Sneads
The Sneads Pirates led the visiting John Paul II Panthers 7-0 late in the first quarter when the game was delayed by lightning in the area. The teams waited 90 minutes for the weather to pass, but were unable to return.
The game is not expected to be made up at a later date.