JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Donovan Masline needed someone on his Raines team to turn in a big play Friday night. Offense, defense, special teams, anyone who could kick the team out of its rut against Parker.
It was little surprise to the Vikings coach that senior safety Derrick Griffin was the one who delivered.
In a defense-first District 3-5A showdown, Griffin blocked a punt after the Braves’ first drive of the second half. That set up the final score of the game, a Raines touchdown that helped the visiting Vikings to a 13-9 victory at Joe Hodge Stadium in the News4Jax Game of the Week.
Griffin smothered the punt after Parker (4-2, 1-1) opened the second half with a 10-play possession, giving Raines (3-2, 1-0) the ball at the Braves 37.
“We just came out and had to be aggressive,” said Griffin of his second blocked high school punt. “We just had to show people we could play Raines football. It was just a whole team effort and just watch us the rest of the season.”
Parker was clinging to a 9-7 lead after Jhayrold Calderon’s 35-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer. But eight plays after Griffin’s block, quarterback Reshawn Latimer Jr. hit Ja’quon King for a nine-yard scoring pass with little more than four minutes left in the third quarter.
Even though 16 minutes remained in the game, the scoring was finished.
“That’s when we got momentum,” said Latimer, who passed for 115 yards and rushed for 43 more. “I told coach, after we got the stop, we were going to go down and score.”
Masline knew Griffin was capable of a big play, simply because of his perseverance. The senior went to a camp at Mercer this summer to get noticed by college coaches. But Griffin broke his left wrist while going through one-on-one drills at the camp.
The cast went on. Griffin rehabbed the injury. The cast came off.
He never missed a practice.
“He was one of the guys we were really counting on in the secondary,” Masline said. “Through (the injury), he stayed locked in.
“All week long, we talked about, ‘Who’s going to make that play? Don’t wait on your teammates, you go make that play.’ And Derrick was the one who changed the game, changed the momentum.”
In a four-team district, it was crucial game. With Yulee beating Ribault on Friday, the Vikings are 3-5A’s lone district unbeaten.
“It definitely gets you off on the right foot,” Masline said. “But we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
The defensive tone for the game was set at the start. Latimer’s first pass was picked off by Damani Dent and run back 26 yards for the pick-six, giving the Braves a 6-0 lead 15 seconds into the game.
Raines drove the length of the field on the next possession but, on fourth-and-goal from the five, a fade pass to the back of the end zone was picked off by C.J. Dorsey.
As Parker stopped the Vikings, Raines’ defense allowed little from the Braves offense. Of Parker’s first 18 plays, only four went for more than three yards.
During the course of the game, Braves quarterbacks were sacked four times. Including incompletions, 22 of Parker’s 38 plays went for no gain or a loss as the Braves totaled 126 yards.
Players such as Jake Armstead (two sacks), Marcus Bowes (sack, two tackles for loss, fumble recovery), Jamari Watson (sack) and Lawrence Cook (two tackles for loss) were among many Vikings who seemed camped in the Parker backfield.
When the Braves did get moving, coach Char-ron Dorsey was chagrined to see his team commit miscues and get flagged for penalties.
“Lack of discipline. That’s what it looked like,” Dorsey said. “(The blocked punt) definitely turned (the game), but at the end of the day, we made some mistakes on offense. The defense tried to hold it down.”
Raines’ offense got past its opening-drive hiccups. Midway through the second quarter, Latimer engineered an 11-play drive that went 80 yards and ended with him sprinting into the end zone from four yards out for a 7-6 Vikings lead.
Still, as good as the Raines defense gave, the Parker defense gave back. Not counting the Vikings taking a couple of knees at the end of the game, the Braves threw Raines for losses 11 times.
That was enough to hold the fort until quarterback Roman Doles came off the bench for Parker in the second quarter. He generated a little offense, with a 39-yard heave to Devon Sinclair giving Parker the ball inside the Raines 20 as the first-half clock ticked down.
Doles quickly spiked the ball and, with 2 seconds left in the half, Calderon connected for a 9-7 lead.
That lasted only through halftime and the opening eight minutes of the second half. Then Griffin, with an eye on avenging last season’s home loss to the Braves, delivered the game-changing play.
“This was kind of like a rivalry game for us after what they did to us last year,” Griffin said. “So this was our payback for this year.”
Raines 13, Parker 9
Raines, 0, 7, 6, 0 —13
Parker, 6, 3, 0, 0 — 9
P – Damani Dent 26 INT return (run failed)
R – Reshawn Latimer 4 run (Quincy Burroughs kick)
P – Jhayrold Calderon 35 FG
R – Ja’quon King 9 pass from Latimer (kick failed)
Category: R — P
First downs: 14 — 9
Rushes-yards: 37-113 — 26-33
Passing: 115 — 93
Comp-Att-Int: 9-15-2 — 8-14-0
Fumbles-lost: 2-0 — 3-1
Penalties-Yards: 6-60 — 6-43
RUSHING — R: Kareem Burke 23-78, Latimer 11-43, Team 3-(-8). P: Justin Drayton 9-36, Saint Brumfield 5-7, Tyrek Williams 3-0, CJ Dorsey 3-(-1), Roman Doles 6-(-9).
PASSING — R: Latimer 9-15-2-115. P: Doles 5-8-0-65, Williams 3-5-0-28, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — R: Quincy Burroughs 5-68, Burke 1-32, King 1-9, Jaron Bell 1-3, Tadarius Devoe 1-3. P: Devon Sinclair 1-39, Tomas Smith 1-24, Dorsey 4-23, Williams 2-7.