GREEN COVE SPRINGS – “It was a weird week with storms and holidays,” said Clay high Blue Devil head coach Kyle Kennard. The head Blue Devil was referring to a cut short practice Tuesday …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – “It was a weird week with storms and holidays,” said Clay high Blue Devil head coach Kyle Kennard. The head Blue Devil was referring to a cut short practice Tuesday (Weather), a school holiday (Veterans Day) on Wednesday and Clay County teams forced to cancel all activities Thursday because of tropical storm Eta.
The first play from scrimmage for the Blue Devils seemed to indicate a smooth night when quarterback Tre Griner ran 50 yards down the sidelines to put Clay in prime scoring position at the winless (0-6) Leesburg’s 20 yard line.
Two high snaps over Griner’s head and an incomplete pass later the Blue Devils found themselves with fourth and 30 and forced to punt. Leesburg would put together a solid drive on their first possession and got all the way to the Blue Devil 39 yard line until a third down sack by defensive lineman Jamal Pierre stopped the drive cold. The Blue Devils would punt again on their second possession and both teams failed to put any points on the scoreboard in the first 12 minutes of action.
The Blue Devils offense got going early in the second quarter with a 91 yard drive that included an early third down conversion throw to Reid Waugh and a difficult catch by wide receiver D’Maurion Frazier that included a late hit out of bounds to get the Blue Devils into Leesburg territory. The drive would then feature Frazier and running back Al’Querious Ray trading touches that ended with a five yard touchdown run by Ray to give the Blue Devils a 7-0 midway through the second quarter.
Remember when Clay coach Kyle Kennard said it was “weird” week? Well, the last six minutes of the second quarter literally defines the word “weird.”
Leesburg started its possession on their own 30 yard line and promptly fumbled the snap that was recovered by Clay defensive lineman Izaiah Butler. The Blue Devils took over and Griner threw an interception in the endzone on the next play.
Leesburg, right on cue, again fumbles the snap and the Blue Devils recovered at the Leesburg nine yard line.
The Blue Devils give the ball to Ray who, you guessed it, fumbled the ball right back to Leesburg at their own three yard line. Then on Leesburg’s second play of the drive from their own 16 yard line they fumbled the snap for a third turnover in less than five minutes. For those of you counting; the two teams combined for six plays and five turnovers during the sequence. Did I mention the game was played on Friday the 13th? Even Jason Vorhees would be proud of the voodoo during that last half of the second quarter.
Ray would stop the bleeding (Which is very Anti-Jason) with a 14 yard touchdown run for a 15-0 halftime lead and a much needed break to reset and settle down.
“We got into them a little at halftime and I think they responded well in the second half” said Kennard. Translation: The coaches may have “slightly” raised their voices and may or may not have had a brief science lesson on how small projectile objects respond when they meet a solid object such as a brick wall at a high rate of speed. Those of you reading this that have played played high school football may or may not have had similar motivational halftime speeches in the same manner.
The Blue Devil defense continued to dominate and forced a punt on Leesburg’s first drive of the second half. The offense then established the running game behind Ray who picked up 10 plus yards on three straight running plays. The drive ended with a 22 yard touchdown run by Ray to give Clay some breathing room leading 22-0 halfway through the third quarter.
The Blue Devil defense got another fumble recovery this time by Brandon Peavy at the Leesburg 19 yard line. Al Querious Ray would score on a screen pass on the first play of the drive for a commanding 29-0 lead. Any hope’s Leesburg had were dashed when Jared Mosely would pick up yet another Leesburg fumble.
The second units for the Blue Devils would take over from there including a 15 yard rushing touchdown by freshman Gavin Rossow and a 23 yard touchdown pass to D’Maurion Frazier by freshman sensation back up quarterback Jayden Jenkins for a 43-0 win to advance in the FHSAA State playoffs.
Senior defensive lineman Jamal Pierre was excited at holding their first opponent scoreless this season. “It’s crazy. We have been trying all season to get a doughnut (Shut out) and we were blessed to get one in a playoff game” he said. “We took advantage of our opportunities and my teammates did their jobs” he added. Even running back Al Querious Ray was thankful his defensive teammates stepped up when the offense was struggling. “I thank the defense for getting those two red zone turnovers that allowed us to get a lead” he said.
The goals only get bigger and more important for Clay high as they will host Port Orange Atlantic in the second round of the playoffs. For Ray, the game plan is simple for the Blue Devils to advance to the third round. “We have to practice hard all week and come out of the gate strong” he said.
Next week’s game time is set for 7:30pm in Green Cove Springs