PREP FOOTBALL: Fort White rolls past Santa Fe for first win
ALACHUA — Waiting a week for redemption following a loss is hard enough for a football team.
Two weeks is even worse. Just ask Fort White.
The Indians hit the field Friday night still furious over their season-opening loss to Suwannee, out to prove they’re still a team to be reckoned with in Class 3A. Behind Dylan Blair’s four touchdown passes and a stout defensive performance, Fort White did just that, rolling to a 43-6 road win over Santa Fe.
It was Fort White’s 10th win in a row over Santa Fe in a rivalry that has been hardly that for the past decade plus.
“The mentality coming into the game was to kill a gnat with a sledge hammer,” said Fort White defensive back Izaya Latham, who had a fumble recovery along with Derrick Roberson. “We wanted to start off strong and finish strong. If we can just keep that mentality for the rest of the season we can be a great team and hard to stop.”
Blair threw for 215 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Deondre Cray. All but seven of those yards came in the first half as Fort White triggered a running clock less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Cray caught four passes for 93 yards while running back Stanley Maxwell rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. The Indians (1-1) finished with 354 yards of total offense while the Raiders (1-2) struggled to put together anything offensively, finishing with 162.
Sixty of Santa Fe’s yards came on the final play of the game when Deron Reid broke free on a fake punt to score a touchdown and end the shutout as time expired. But the margin of victory could have also been much greater as Fort White turned the ball over on downs inside the 5-yard line once and also fumbled inside the 20 in the first half.
“I thought it was a pretty dominating performance in all three phases,” Fort White coach Demetric Jackson said. “We had one turnover and turned it over on downs but we got our share of turnovers, which is always a plus. We got a little stupid there at the end with some of the penalties but as far as the effort and the domination, I thought we came out ready to go.”
Blair’s connection with his receivers was still a work in progress in Fort White’s season-opening loss to Suwannee but he was locked and loaded against Santa Fe. The senior threw a 10-yard touchdown to Brayden Summers on the game’s opening drive and then came back on the next possession to hit Rahman Paul for an 11-yard score to put Fort White up 14-0.
Despite turning it over on downs and losing a fumble on their next two drives, the Indians still found time to put the game away before halftime thanks to Blair’s arm. Blair hooked up with Cray on the next two possessions and both times Blair had to escape pressure, roll to his right and find Cray on the move for touchdowns.
Add in a two-point conversion by Matt DiMauro and Fort White took a 29-0 lead into intermission.
“I think we got out jitters out after that first game and we just came out ready to play this game,” Blair said. “We had two weeks off because we didn’t get to play Providence so we were ready to play this week.
“Two weeks of practice helped us out and the boys were ready to eat.”
Latham recovered fumble on the first play of the second half and Maxwell scored two snaps later on a 13-yard scamper. Maxwell also found the end zone from 20 yards out in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a few things we still need to work on but not being able to play for two weeks kind of hurt us,” Jackson said. “We’re happy with the win and happy with the way our guys played.”
Summers left the game in the first half after hurting his foot on a 7-yard run. He left the stadium on crutches shortly after to go for an x-ray.
“I’m a little concerned about Brayden. He came out with a foot injury and we’re hoping it’s not too serious,” Jackson said.
Fort White is already without running back Corey Dryden (torn ACL) so an extended absence for Summers would be a huge loss.
DID YOU SEE THAT?
DiMauro is Fort White’s left tackle but he also acts as the team’s kicker from time to time. A failed extra point also turned him into a runner Friday night.
Following Cray’s second touchdown shortly before halftime, Fort White had a bad snap on the extra point but the 6-foot-2, 245-pound lineman scooped up the loose ball and found an extra gear to run into the end zone for a 2-point conversion as Fort White’s sidelined erupted in celebration.
Fort White hosts Taylor County in a Region 1-3A contest next Friday at 7:30 p.m.