Preparation for the postseason got off to a quick start for the North Florida Christian football team, which played its District 2-2A game against FAMU DRS on Thursday night at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
The Eagles were slow starting, not scoring until 3:57 left in the first quarter, but after that it was off to the races, scoring two more times before the end of the quarter.
NFC rolled to a 49-8 victory over the Rattlers, eliminating FAMU DRS (0-8, 0-2) from playoff contention and giving the Eagles (6-3, 2-0) a fifth consecutive district title and 25th overall as a school.
For added measure, FAMU DRS hasn’t beaten NFC since the 1990s.
Jay Harrison’s 14-yard touchdown scamper started the scoring, and on the ensuing FAMU DRS possession, the Rattlers fumbled. Moments later, NFC receiver Nate Shafer earned a 24-yard touchdown off a pass from quarterback Avery Thomas.
Immediately after, the Rattlers were backed up near their 20 and NFC linebacker Phil Gardner blocked a punt and returned it himself eight yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
“I feel like we were zeroed in and focused against FAMU,” Eagles coach Robert Craft said. “We scored seven touchdowns all by different guys and were able to share the load, then get some guys experience in a district game in the second half. We celebrated last night and now feel we had an advantage with two weeks to prepare and rest up.”
Midway through the second quarter, Eagles running back Korey Charles broke a 34-yard run, leading to his own 2-yard touchdown carry. He finished the game with seven carries for 49 yards.
NFC posted another 21-point quarter when Thomas completed touchdown passes of 9 and 34 yards to Terrell Powell and Matt McCardle, respectively.
Thomas completed 6 of 11 passes for 90 yards and three touchdowns, finishing off his night with a touchdown run in the third quarter to create a 49-0 lead.
The Eagles don’t yet know their first-round playoff opponent, but it sets up to be Jacksonville’s Cedar Creek Christian, potentially setting up a showdown with longtime playoff rival University Christian a round later.
“We feel like the difficulty of our shcedule has prepared us and we hope it’s crucial to us as we move through the playoffs,” Craft said. “It doesn’t mean we’ve won every game, but we’ve been in tough atmospheres against really good size and speed.
“Cedar Creek is very good and someone we can’t take lightly. And almost every year someone has to go through University.”
Leon 22, Chiles 21 (Thursday)
The Lions came from nine points down entering the fourth quarter on Thursday night to stun Chiles on a game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds laft. The pass from Leon quarterback Ty Glasco to receiver Javier Ferrer went for 21 yards and came on a fourth-and-16.
Chiles receiver John Mitchell caught four passes for 156 yards, including a touchdown catch of 80 yards in the third quarter, but the Timberwolves (6-3, 1-1 District 2-7A) couldn’t fully capitalize on Leon’s three second-half fumbles to put the game out of reach.
Leon (4-5, 1-1) won the program’s 598th game by responding to Chiles’ scores with resilient scores of its own, getting crucial field goals of 20, 40 and 40 yards from kicker Jack Driggers along the way.
Leon, Lincoln and Chiles will now play in a three-way tiebreaker at Cox Stadium on Monday night to determine the district champion and runner-up. One team will not advance to the playoffs.
Rickards 49, Godby 42
Raiders sophomore Marcus Riley accounted for 556 yard of offense and seven combined touchdowns, leading Rickards (6-2, 1-1 District 2-5A) to the playoffs and a city title.
Riley was 15 of 22 passing for 316 yards and five touchdowns– four in the second-half during a comeback from down 21-6– and he rushed for 219 yard and two touchdowns of 53 and 86 yards.
It offset the effort of Godby quarterback Darius Bradwell who was 12 of 30 passing for 201 yards, while rushing for 198 yards and touchdowns of 1, 23, 3 and 38 yards.
Bradwell threw three interceptions, two to Rickards’ Javon Wooten and one to Javon Peterson, who made the diving catch in the end zone as Godby was trying to find the equalizing score with only 19 seconds left.
Wooten finished with three catches for 110 yards, including a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown, while Kalen Riles had five catches for 107.
Mike Carrigan had five catches for 126 yards for Godby, aided by an 85-yard touchdown, while Tyquan Watson carried 16 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Godby’s loss leaves them short of the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Taylor County 32, Florida High 24
In Perry, Taylor County ruined Florida High’s thoughts of forcing a three-way tiebreaker in District 2-3A. Instead, the Bulldogs won a district title in head coach Tanner Jones second year, beating the Seminoles to go with an earlier win on the road at Pensacola Catholic.
Florida High (6-4, 0-2) misses the playoffs for the first time since 2012, while Taylor County (4-5, 2-0) is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence.
The Seminoles led 24-20 heading to the fourth quarter but surrendered the game-winning touchdown with 5:50 left in the game. Makel Young and Trevor Lucas had touchdown runs for Florida High, while Karenz Stephens returned a kickoff for a score.
Rocky Bayou 36, Aucilla Christian 12
Aucilla Christian fell short of a win, but running back Joshua Greene compiled 108 yards and a touchdown, while Joe Hannon added 35 rushing yards. On defense, Austin Harrell led with nine tackles.
West Gadsden 18, Maclay 9
The Marauders led 9-0 at halftime, but West Gadsden battled back in the second half.
Maclay receiver Jacob Sniffen made six catches for 126 yards and a 35-yard touchdown, while freshman quarterback Jack Brady was 19 of 28 passing for 257 yards.
Maclay (2-8) made the playoffs courtesy of a win over FAMU DRS earlier in the year and will host Mayo Lafayette next week in the last week of the regular season.
Lincoln 37, University High 27
On the road, the Lincoln Trojans came up with their biggest win of the year over a team that was previously 8-1.
Lincoln kicker Kalil Clark made three field goals, including one to tie the game 27-27, and another to take the lead 30-27 with 2:16 left in regulation. The Trojans (3-6) secured victory with a pick-six just 30 seconds later.
Lincoln returns home to face Godby next week.
Jefferson County 42, Bell 10
The Tigers’ offensive line dominated play, allowing Jefferson County (6-3) to record another district victory. The Tigers made the playoffs last week after a four-year absence.
Defensively, Treon Patrick and Tyrone Ivey both made two interceptions, and each returned one of those for touchdowns.
The Tigers go on the road to face Wakulla (8-1) next week in a non-district game, before heading to Fort White for the first round of playoffs.
Munroe 21, North Bay Haven 16
On the road, the Bobcats ended a two-year winless streak and in their last game of the year.
Munroe running back Elliott Robinson rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, while Isiah Glenn contributed 45 rushing yards.
John Paul II 20, Oak Hall 6
The Panthers improved to 6-3 on the year with a big win over previous one-loss Oak Hall. The win total sets a new single-season record for the school. John Paul II plays Nov. 13 in the NFCCC championship game as winner of its division.
Wakulla 49, Arlington Country Day 7
After Arlington Country Day’s bus broke down on the way to the game and play didn’t start until after 9 p.m., Wakulla wasted little time letting them know they should have stayed away.
Feleipe Franks threw a touchdown pass to Keith Gavin and ran for another score as the War Eagles (8-1) rolled and worked in plenty of backups.
Walton 35, East Gadsden 7
Liberty County 49, Chipley 14