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Clay plays 'lights out' to clinch district

Despite brief blackout, Blue Devils down Palatka 48-20 to finish 4-0 in district

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – One-man wrecking crew JT Turner had a hand in five of Clay's touchdowns Friday as the Blue Devils romped to a 48-20 victory over visiting Palatka to lock up the District 4-5A title.

Clay swept its district opponents and moved to 8-1 for the season with a bye week next week.

"I'm proud of our coaching staff and the kids," coach Josh Hoekstra said. "Our goal was to go 4-0 in the district, and we accomplished that tonight."

The Panthers (3-4, 1-2) weren't the only thing knocked out at Clay -- the field lights went out for about 20 minutes in the second quarter. The principal told News4Jax it's the first time that happened in a game in nearly 40 years, and the culprit was a blown fuse.

But the Blue Devils had their own theories.

"It was crazy. The kids were saying we were playing lights out," Hoekstra joked. "I'm really proud of our offense and defense. They made some great plays tonight."

Starting with the first of his senior quarterback's five touchdowns –- a 53-yard TD pass to sophomore Colin Wilson on the opening drive.

He followed that with TD runs of 32 and 52 yards in the second quarter before the blackout. Then after the lights came back on, Turner threw a 25-yard TD to Wilson again with 3 seconds to play in the half. Clay led 26-7 at halftime.

Turner's last score came in the third quarter on a 6-yard run. He finished 5 of 8 for 117 yards and had 12 rushes for 152 yards.

Wilson contributed another TD on a 1-yard run, and sophomore Angel Valdes put the final touches on with a 12-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Wilson finished with three catches for 89 yards and had 20 rushed for 111 yards.

Senior Ben Myles was a bright spot for the Panthers, scoring two touchdowns. He had a 2-yard TD run in the first quarter to tie the game at 7 early. He also scored on a 1-yard run with just a few minutes left in the game.

Senior Ka'ven Berry had a highlight for Palatka when he returned a third-quarter kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown.