JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was all about the defense on Saturday at Raines.
The Vikings used six interceptions, including three by Kyree Hammond, to rout rival Ribault 44-20 in the 51st Northwest Classic on a picture-perfect afternoon at the Graveyard.
It was a far different Classic than fans were accustomed to.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, there was no pregame tailgate that the game is famous for. No back-and-forth among Raines and Ribault alums in the parking lots. No festivities that highlight the passion between the neighboring schools.
This one was solely about football.
Raines (2-3) trailed 12-7 midway through the opening quarter but blew the game wide open not long after Hammond’s first pick at the end of the quarter. His interception and ensuing return that he took down to the Ribault 3 led to a Carleton Butler touchdown run on the next play.
That broke things open for the Vikings, whose defense was the difference against the Trojans (1-4).
A muffed kickoff pinned Ribault back at its own 3 on the next drive and Christian McNair intercepted Santana Jackson and walked into the end zone. Those scoring plays came just 12 seconds apart in the second quarter and put Raines up 20-12.
Field position was never in Ribault’s favor.
Whether it was by short punts or the Vikings pinning them back to start, the Trojans were at a disadvantage throughout the game. A bad snap on a punt rolled out of the end zone and led to a safety. A short punt and return set up Raines at the Trojans 15. Kareem Burke capped that drive with an 8-yard touchdown.
Hammond added his pick-six midway through the third quarter, a 20-yarder. Exezaviar Knight and Dedrick Griffin also had interceptions for the Vikings. And Raines recovered a muffed punt by Ribault that set up a touchdown. Butler had three rushing touchdowns for Raines.
Jackson had a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Trojans.