Golden Eagles regain form in victory against Panthers

Fleming Island 43, Ridgeview 14

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 9/29/21

ORANGE PARK – Freshman quarterback Cibastian Broughton threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns as visiting Fleming Island found its passing game in a 43-14 non-district blowout of Clay County …

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Golden Eagles regain form in victory against Panthers

Fleming Island 43, Ridgeview 14

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Freshman quarterback Cibastian Broughton threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns as visiting Fleming Island found its passing game in a 43-14 non-district blowout of Clay County rival Ridgeview on September 24.

Broughton’s accuracy was good, as he completed 11 of 14 throws. More importantly, he kept drives alive with third down conversions, was accurate throwing down the field and led a successful two minute drill.

“I am very encouraged,” said Fleming Island head coach Damenyum Springs. “He [Broughton] keeps getting better.”

On the Golden Eagles’ opening drive, Broughton completed a pass to Jordan Herff for 18 yards on a third and nine from the Ridgeview 34 yard line. Two plays later, Sam Singleton ran over right guard for the game’s first touchdown. On Fleming Island’s next possession, Broughton scrambled for 10 yards on a third and seven, taking the ball to the Panthers 33 yard line. That drive also ended with a Singleton touchdown run and a 15-7 Fleming Island advantage.

In just his fourth high school start, Broughton went five for five in moving the Golden Eagles from their own 25 to the end zone in the final 1:20 of the first half. He hit Caleb Jones in stride on a skinny post pattern for the final 37 yards, allowing Fleming Island to take a 29-7 lead into the intermission.

The ninth grader completed another bomb on the Golden Eagles’ first drive of the third quarter. On a third and 16, wideout Brendan Cooks sped up the sideline, gaining a step on Ridgeview cornerback Nasir Tillman. Broughton dropped a pass over Tillman and into Cooks’ bread basket for a 56 yard touchdown that, after Ben Hollinger’s point after, pushed Fleming Island’s lead to 36-7 with 10:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Singleton, a junior committed to the University of South Florida, was his usual elusive self. He gained 114 yards on 17 carries, scoring twice and adding a two-point conversion after his first touchdown. He set the early tone as he ran the ball on eight of the twelve plays it took the Eagles to march 87 yards on the game’s opening possession. But with Broughton’s hot hand, the junior only had one rush after the 6:54 mark of the second quarter.

The Fleming Island offense was the most potent it has been all season. The 43 points were more than the 34 points that the Golden Eagles, now 2-3, had scored in their first four games combined. The visitors had 344 yards of total offense in the first half, 168 rushing and 176 through the air. Springs was pleased with the nearly even split, as the passing game had been an Achilles heel thus far.

“The balance is huge, because it means teams can’t pack the box against us,” he said.

Springs was not pleased with the 150 yards the referees marked off on account of 14 Golden Eagles penalties. On one second quarter possession, penalties on three consecutive plays wiped out two would-be first downs and forced Fleming Island to face third and 25 from their own two yard line. Rather than risk a turnover so close to the goal line, Springs had Broughton quick kick a punt. The boot traveled only 25 yards, allowing the Panthers to take over at the Golden Eagles 27 yard line. It took just one play for Ridgeview to cash in on the short field. Ben Gardiner rolled to his right and connected with a wide open Chris Baptiste in the end zone to cut the Fleming lead to 8-6.

Gardiner finished with eight completions on 19 attempts for 70 yards.

“It is embarrassing,” Springs said of the penalties. “If you want to play championship football, you cannot do that.”

Not much went right for Ridgeview, which had only one first down and 28 yards of total offense in the first half. The Panthers, now 1-3, may have lost more than county bragging rights. Three starters went down with what appeared to be season-ending injuries. Linebacker Napoleon Cion was taken off the field on a stretcher in the second quarter on Singleton’s second scoring run. The Golden Eagles’ Timothy Lawrence was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play. Later, fellow linebacker Hunter Creech broke his collarbone and starting running back Fabian Thompson departed with what the Ridgeview coaching staff feared was a torn knee ligament.

The Panthers finally sustained a drive in the fourth quarter, moving 72 yards in eight plays. Durrionte Myrick lined up as a wildcat quarterback, swept right behind several blockers and tiptoed up the sideline for the final 15 yards.

Ridgeview has 10 sophomores in its starting 22, and Ridgeview Defensive Coordinator Stephen Creech was pleased with the young team’s effort.

“We ask the kids to compete the whole time, and they played the whole game,” he said. ”Fleming has a good coaching staff and a lot of great athletes, so we knew it was going to be tough.”

The schedule does not get any easier for Ridgeview, which got two sacks from defensive tackle Derrick Moseley and an interception from Tillman. The Panthers host prohibitive District 4-6A favorite St. Augustine on October 1.

Darion Domineck took a wide receiver screen pass 58 yards in the second quarter and freshman TayShaun Smith scored a late rushing touchdown for the other Fleming Island scores. Smith’s score was set up by Jaronn Saulsberry, who blocked a punt and recovered the loose ball at the Ridgeview five yard line.

Jhace Edward had two sacks and William Newman had two tackles for loss for the Golden Eagles, who may have found their groove just in time. The Golden Eagles now embark on the most important part of their schedule, facing four consecutive District 3-7A opponents, beginning with a road game at Ponte Vedra this Friday, October 1

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