KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Confronting what would be their tallest challenge of the season, Keystone Heights football put their five game win streak against a throwing team that was riding a three-win …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Confronting what would be their tallest challenge of the season, Keystone Heights football put their five game win streak against a throwing team that was riding a three-win streak, the Ft. White Indians. Keystone Heights crushed their last two opponents with a pounding 68-13 against Umatilla, and a blistering 44-0 stomping of Interlachen. Tonight, would be different as Ft. White was coming off victories against Santa Fe and Branford.
Fort White would get ahead 14-6 before Keystone Heights would get the steamroller into gear and take control of the game to win 30-14.
“Tuesday and Wednesday practices weren’t very good this week and I was a little worried we were going to come out flat,” said Keystone Heights Coach Chuck Dickinson.
Once Keystone Heights figured out the defensive backfield to slowdown Ft. White Junior Quarterback Clayton Philpot, the hometown Indians sent the visiting Indians home bruised and battered as Ft. White were held scoreless in the second half with Keystone Heights notching a fumble recovery and a picked off pass to keep themselves perfect at 6-0 with a 30-14 victory heading into Homecoming week.
After Fort White won the toss and deferred, Keystone Heights buckled in and started the initial march downfield until getting called for an illegal shift that handed the ball over to Fort White around mid-field. A single pass got the ball to first and goal, capped off with a corner reception to get ahead 7-0 at 7:22.
“We have some stuff we had to work out in our defensive secondary, and that quarterback was good,” said Dickinson, who faces a strong Crescent City team on Friday with Homecoming Festivities on tap.
Fort White tried to follow up with some trickery by attempting an onside kick. The ball didn’t travel the required 10 yards and Keystone pounced on it to start their drive inside the Fort White end of the field. Keystone Heights stuck with what got them to the dance, using a heavy dose of senior running back Dalton Hollingsworth (35 carries/238 yards/2 touchdowns), getting on the board at 3:22, 7-6, after a missed two-point conversion.
Fort White rallied right back into the second quarter, abusing the hole Keystone Heights needed to patch in the left flat. With a couple passes, the visitors were up 14-6.
“We needed a game like this. We haven’t been in any games like this, this year. I told our kids it would be a physical game and Ft. White lived up to it,” said Dickinson. “It was the first time we were behind all year.”
Keystone Heights had to overcome some connection issues in the backfield, as well as between the center and quarterback all night, but even with the issues, the team only coughed the ball up once.
“No excuses, that’s all my fault” said sophomore quarterback Conner Guy. “I can make all the excuses in the world, but I just dropped the ball and that can’t happen.”
After a fumble recovery from sophomore offensive lineman Jayden Goodman, the team continued the march down the field. With Fort White now expecting nothing but run, Guy dropped back and connected with senior running back Logan Williams (7 carries/59 yards/1 reception/2 touchdowns) for a 31 yard touchdown reception that he punched into the endzone.
“My quarterback coach was working with me all week,” said Williams. “He told me get deeper, get deeper and keep your eyes down field. He told me be ready, it’s going to be there. I trusted him, the play made it into the game and we did it. I want him to believe in me, but it was the team that got us to that point so we can do that. Our run game is so strong that it opened up my pass game.”
With a Hollingsworth conversion, the game was all tied up 14-14.
Fort White was again stymied on their counter, and launched a punt so high, the refs checked for ice on the ball. The punt yielded only net six yards and it was Keystone Heights back in the driver’s seat. Hollingsworth, now with help from Tyler Jenkins, worked the ball to the 13 yard line. Williams got the nod to finish the job, finding a Mack truck size hole in the middle from his monsters on the front line, and punched it in for the score.
“We have some beasts up on the O-line,” said Jenkins. Hollingsworth added the conversion to finally go ahead 22-14 with 1:19 left to the half.
The pop-up kickoff was recovered by Keystone Heights who worked the ball to the 18 yard line. They ran out of time and time outs to try passing the ball in for another score.
After the half, just as Fort White looked to build some sort of momentum, it was senior defensive lineman Luke Snider who turned the tides with a huge fumble recovery.
“Luke was a great momentum boost right when we needed it,” said Jenkins.
Keystone Heights again worked the ball to the Fort White five yard line, only to notch two incomplete pass attempts, turning the ball over on downs. Ft. White mounted another attack, only to get foiled by Williams jumping a route and tipping away a third down pass attempt. After the punt return, Keystone started out on their own 42 yard line and again steamrolled with Williams, Hollingsworth, and Jenkins right into the fourth quarter. With 9:39 left to play, Hollingsworth again punched it in, followed by a Williams conversion for the final 30-14 score.
Jenkins would kill the final Fort White drive with a picked off pass after Trey Jefferies got to the Fort White Quarterback and hit his throwing arm as he released. “We’re just going to stay humble, look at each week as if we are zero wins, zero losses, and keep pushing through. We have to prove to everyone every single week, that we have what it takes.” Keeping it classy, Keystone went into pace mode to run out the last six minutes of the game.
Friday night is Homecoming for Keystone as they face off against Crescent City for their last regular season home game. The final three weeks of the season are all on the road as Keystone Heights looks to mount another post-season charge.
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