ST. AUGUSTINE – The Clay High Blue Devils football team, led by 250 yards rushing from Cedrick Brown, played their hearts out in a must win district game at Pedro Menendez but, with just 41 seconds …
ST. AUGUSTINE – The Clay High Blue Devils football team, led by 250 yards rushing from Cedrick Brown, played their hearts out in a must win district game at Pedro Menendez but, with just 41 seconds left in play, fell short in a 49-47 shootout played Friday at Menendez that featured some of the best running backs in northeast Florida on both teams.
“I thought we had our redzone issues fixed but obviously that wasn’t the case. We just were not able to stop them enough; especially on third and fourth down tonight” said Clay High coach Joshua Hoekstra, who now sits at an unfamiliar 1-5 overall and 0-2 at the bottom of district 5-5A play. “I am really proud of the way our guys,
especially our seniors, battled tonight. Our kids have a ton of pride being part of Clay High football. We just came up a little short; it’s pretty unfortunate.”
In district 5-5A play, Baker County (4-1, 2-0) is on top with their win over Palatka with Orange Park ahead of Ridgeview 22-7 after a lightning stop Friday. Clay still has to play Baker County, Ridgeview and Palatka and could shake up that district line up with three wins there.
“We just need one win, I have no clue on rest,” said Hoekstra. “We lost two district games by three points total. Brutal. I would imagine we win out, 5-5 and hope to get some help.”
Menendez, who had blow out victories over powerhouses 6A-St. Augustine and state runner up 5A-Ponte Vedra high school, plus two of the top running backs in the state in Kenny Logan and Tye Edwards who both have multiple Power Five scholarship offers, the Clay attack was, at best, frustrating as the Blue Devils captured the lead late in the fourth quarter off an 80 yard scoring run from Brown to go up 33-28 with 8:31 left in the game.
“They have talented running backs but so do we. I believe we are just as talented and deserving of praise as their guys” said Brown, who scored on runs of 45, 80 and 12 yards plus had a 45 yard kickoff return that led to a Clay score.
Menendez would take less than two minutes on their opening drive to score with Logan, who rushed for 227 yards, breaking a 50 yard run on the first play from scrimmage then scoring two plays later to give the Falcons a quick 7-0 lead. Clay would waste little time showing off their own running back skills with Spencer Lesage breaking open a 33 yard run to the Menendez 34 yard line. Lesage would later convert a fourth down run to the 21 yard line, but Clay missed a field goal by Tucker Reape.
Two series later, Logan would run 41 yards up the middle leaving the Blue Devil secondary in the dust with blazing speed to give Menendez a 14-0 lead at the end of one quarter. The Blue Devils would get excellent field position after a 45 kick off return by Brown to start the offense on a short field. Lesage and Brown would lead the Clay ground attack inside the Falcon 10 yard line. On fourth and one from the six, Lesage was stopped less than one inch short of the first down much to the disdain of the Clay coaching staff questioning the officials spotting of the ball.
Logan would come up big again with a third down run 40 yards to the Clay 46 yard line that set up a 34 yard pass to the Blue Devil 10 yard line. Menendez would pound in for the score with Edwards, who also hit the 227 rush yard mark, but Brown would blast a 45 yard scoring run on a fourth and seven to put Clay on the scoreboard.
On the kickoff, Reape would execute a perfect “pooch” kick that allowed special teams/linebacker Cain Creery to recover the football for Clay at the Menendez 43 yard line. Quickly, quarterback Turner Erstad then found tight end Chris Davis for 36 yards to the seven yard line. Two plays later Erstad would run for the score to cut the lead to 21-13 with two minutes left in the first half.
Edwards would go big with a 75 yard kickoff return to the Clay 10 where the Blue Devil defense stuffed the run game to force a field goal attempt. With a roughing the kicker flag, Edwards returned to the backfield to score off a 10 yard run to give the Falcons a 28-13 lead.
The Blue Devils wasted little time on their opening drive of the third quarter to find the endzone after big gains by Lesage and Erstad led to a 12 yard touchdown run by Brown. It was then time for the Clay defensive line led by defensive end Kenneth Johnson to make their presence known. Johnson would sack Logan on third down for an eight yard loss and suddenly the momentum clearly shifted to the Blue Devils.
Using that new found momentum, Brown would run 43 yards to the Falcon 22 yard line to set up a 12 yard scoring run from Erstad to pull Clay to within two points at 28-26. The two point conversion would be no good with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
Johnson and the Blue Devil defense seemed to stall the Logan and Edwards assault with Johnson crashing in on fourth and five to hold the Falcons to a missed field goal with 8:47 left in the game.
From there the marathon of emotional swings would begin.
Brown would take the first play 80 yards for a Clay touchdown and their first lead of the game at 33-28 with 8:31 left to play.
Menendez would waste little time as Logan ran the ball twice all the way to the Clay 14 yard line. Edwards would score two plays later with 7:07 left to regain the lead at 36-33 after a successful two point conversion.
Clay’s Alec Holt took the kickoff to the 43 yard line but the Blue Devils drive stalled to a fourth down and 10. However, Turner would find wide receiver Bri’shaun Britt on a perfect slant route for a 57 yard touchdown pass to regain the lead 40-36.
Edwards would answer on the Falcons next possession with a 50 yard run to the Blue Devil 24 yard line. The Clay defense would hold the dynamic duo to nine yards on the next three plays to set up a fourth and one with 3:50 left. Edwards would break through the line and run through the Clay secondary to reclaim the lead at 43-40.
Not be outdone, Holt answered back taking the kickoff 85 yards and just like that Clay went back on top 47-43 with 3:36 remaining.
On the final salvo of the thrilling fourth quarter, Menendez started their drive at their own 45 yard line and Edwards smashed four straight runs of 8-12 yards each down to the Clay 19 yard line. Logan would then break through the secondary for a touchdown to regain the lead 49-47 with :41 seconds left.
The Blue Devils did have one final opportunity but a third down pass was picked off and Menendez escaped with a district win over a Clay team that was clearly frustrated by another close loss; their second district loss by two points or less in the past three games. For you math majors, that is two district losses by a combined three points.