As timing goes, the Jay Royals couldn’t have asked for a better week to win the first game for first-year head coach Melvin Kersey.
Playing their final game at Merle North Stadium and doing it in front of a Homecoming crowd, the Royals got their ground game going early and often in exploding for a 50-0 win over Rocky Bayou Christian on Friday.
“Our fans have been so great, they have really been behind us the whole season,” Kersey said. “They recognize where we’re at right now, with us being a young team. We’re starting four or five ninth graders, a handful of 10th graders. They are getting there and maturing. It was a really exciting atmosphere after the game. The seniors stormed the field. The band came down and played. It was a really good atmosphere. Everybody was happy and that’s the way it should be.”
The Royals jumped on the visiting Knights and did it all on the ground, taking a 22-0 first quarter lead and 36-0 halftime advantage.
“We felt like we could run the football on them,” Kersey said. “You never know until you get in there and see. We felt like we were going to be able to move the ball on the ground.”
And that they did, to the tune of 388 yards and six touchdowns on 40 carries. James Eddings led the way with 139 yards and three TDs on six carries.
The defense got in on the act also as Matthew Sailor combined a good night on the ground (9-45, 1 TD) with a 78-yard interception return for a score.
“It feels good to get it (a win),” Kersey said. “I think it was important for the kids to get a win, to see that hard work paying off.”
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Niceville 27, Pine Forest 14
The Niceville Eagles scored 21 points in the third quarter to open up a 24-0 lead only to have Pine Forest storm back before falling 27-14 to the unbeaten Eagles on the road Friday night.
It took nearly an entire half of football for either team to score, and it was Niceville that got on the board first with a field goal just before the end of the first half to take a 3-0 halftime lead.
The Eagles came out in the second half and found their rhythm, getting a 24-yard catch that was fumbled into the endzone, but recovered by Niceville for a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. A few minutes later, the Eagles got another long pass to set up another touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
Donte Sheffield got in on the act a few minutes later, taking it to the house for a 24-0 lead.
Just when it looked like a rout, Pine Forest’s Clarence Hicks scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown and Jaden Gardner scored on a 61-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 24-14.
Niceville got a long field goal to extend the lead to 27-14 and held on for the win.
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Mosley 31, PHS 30
The Pensacola High Tigers suffered another tough loss on the road Friday night, dropping a slim 31-30 margin to the Mosley Dolphins in District 1-5A play.
Mosley took a 17-6 lead into the half, but Pensacola stormed back in the second half to take an 18-17 lead.
From that point on, it was a back-and-forth contest, with Mosley going back up 24-18 and then extended the lead to 31-18.
PHS stormed back to make it 31-24 and 31-30, but failed to make the extra points to overcome the deficit.
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Northview 12, Walton 10
The Northview Chiefs picked up another big win on Friday, knocking off the Walton Braves by a score of 12-10.
The Chiefs struck first in the contest as Luke Ward broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.
Walton came back and got a field goal to cut the lead to 6-3 and scored a TD right before the half to lead 10-6 at the break.
The Chiefs got the game-winner on a 9-yard TD pass from Ward to Hunter Edwards.
The Chiefs forced two fourth-quarter turnovers (M.J. Jones interception and Ohijie Elliott sack and forced fumble, recovered by Justin Helton) to hold on to the victory and improve to 6-3 overall.
Leading the Chiefs offensively on the ground was Luke Ward with 23 rushes for 121 yards and 1 TD and Hunter Edwards with 16 rushes for 80 yards. Ward was also 14-21 passing for 79 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.