JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One touchdown, a clutch field goal and plenty of defense gave Raines bragging rights for the year.
The Vikings did just enough to escape with a 10-7 win over Ribault in the 50th Northwest Classic on a breezy and festive Saturday afternoon Alvin White Stadium. The game, televised live on WJXT for the first time, was a gritty, physical and, at times, sloppy battle that tipped the scales in District 4-5A in favor of the Vikings (4-2, 3-0).
It took one defensive stand after another and a four-down stop with less than a minute to play to survive the Trojans for their third consecutive win in the series.
Raines can win the district title outright with a victory over Yulee on Oct. 17. Ribault (2-4, 0-2), which entered the game ranked No. 7 in the playoff RPI standings, will need significant help to crack the top eight.
It was a battle until the end on a day dominated by both defenses and a great day for penalty flags, a staggering 31 of them for 247 yards between the teams. Ribault bore the brunt of the penalties (20 for 167).
Raines had just 71 total yards against Ribault and scored its lone touchdown late in the first half on a 31-yard interception return by Treyvon Hobbs. The clincher came in an unexpected way, a 33-yard field goal by Nigel Hobbs with 3.5 seconds to go before halftime. And Raines needed every bit of that 10-0 lead to hang on.
Ribault moved the ball well throughout the game, but had two backbreakers in the second half following Santana Jackson's 20-yard scoring pass to Freddie Manning on the opening drive of the third quarter.
The first came on an overthrow from Jackson (12 of 23 passing, 181 yards, TD) to a wide-open Javari Williams on a third-and-goal from the 4 in the third quarter. The Trojans ultimately attempted a field goal, which was smothered.
The next came on drive with less than four minutes to play when an all-out blitz on a second-and-10 from the Raines 15 swamped Jackson. Cedric Newsome recovered the fumble for Raines.
The game turned from one-sided to a tight one in the second half as Ribault finally strung together positive offense.
It took the opening drove of the third quarter 63 yards over four plays, with Jackson hitting Manning for the big one. Its ensuing drive was its most consistent of the game, but it ended with nothing.
Jackson, facing a third-and-29, hit a leaping Vincent Bailey down the sideline for a gain of 33 to get to the Raines 6. But the Trojans stalled on three downs, including the overthrow, and C'Darien Fedd's 21-yard field goal try didn't even make it past the line of scrimmage.
Bailey had 97 yards on three catches for Ribault and Josh Jones rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries.
Raines broke a deadlocked first half on what amounted to a mistaken Ribault playcall.
Backed up on its own 13 and with the down marker showing third down, the Trojans lined up in a typical third-down offensive look. Jackson let it fly, only to be picked off by Hobbs at the 31 and taken back the distance the other way for the first points of the game.
While the down marker said it was third down, it was actually fourth (two carries and an incompletion preceded it). The Trojans would have almost certainly punted had they caught the gaffe.
Instead, Raines got on the board with 2:43 to go in the half. It added a 33-yard field goal by Smith with 3.5 seconds before half.
Penalty flags decimated Ribault. The Trojans were flagged 14 times for 110 yards in the opening half, including a holding call that erased a 25-yard run by Jacobs that went down to the Raines 5. That was the deepest drive of the first half for Ribault, which wound up having to punt it away on that possession.
Raines 10, Ribault 7
Raines, 0, 10, 0, 0 – 10
Ribault, 0, 0, 7, 0 – 7
Raines – Treyvon Hobbs 31 interception return (Nigel Smith kick)
Raines – Nigel Smith 33 FG
Ribault – Freddie Manning 20 pass from Santana Jackson (C'Darrien Fedd kick)
RUSHING: Raines, Nigel Smith 9-48, Jairus Stewart 4-19; Ribault, Josh Jones 11-50, Javari Williams 6-29.
PASSING: Raines, Adrian Williams 0-1-0 0; Carleton Butler 4-11-0 14; Ribault, Santana Jackson 12-23-1 181.
RECEIVING: Raines, Dejohn Davis 1-8, Kareem Burke 1-5; Ribault, Vincent Bailey 3-97, Freddie Manning 3-40, Anthony Felton 3-37.