Game of the Week: Creekside lights up Nease in St. Johns County showdown

Knights get 5-TD game from Nicky Williams in a 62-41 win over Panthers

Creekside's Nicky Williams (28) rushed for five touchdowns in Friday night's 62-41 win over Nease. (Kevin Nguyen, For News4JAX) (Kevin Nguyen, News4JAX)

ST. JOHNS, Fla. – By the time his game was nearing the end, Creekside’s Nicky Williams didn’t need the short fields his defense and special teams had been providing. The junior running back showed he could peel off long runs as well as get the tough short yards.

Either way, it seemed the end zone was the only thing stopping Williams’ progress Friday night.

Williams rushed for five touchdowns in the News4JAX Game of the Week, while quarterback Wilson Edwards threw for three more, as the host Knights used a 21-point third-quarter outburst on the way to a 62-41 victory over Nease in a St. Johns County showdown.

Williams had three scoring runs of two yards for the Knights (2-0), ranked sixth in the Super 10, and then put the cap on the game with fourth-quarter touchdown runs from 51 and 45 yards.

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“[In the] first and second quarter, we were busting them,” said Williams, who rushed for 183 yards on 25 carries. “They were getting tired. They didn’t want none of this in the second half. The O-line punched them in the mouth, and I just read the holes for the touchdowns.”

Williams rushed for 133 yards in the second half. But it was all the more impressive as he had taken a back seat in terms of carries last week when Danny Approbato rolled up 172 yards. Knights coach Sean McIntyre credited that to the team’s preparation.

“It doesn’t matter who the kid is because of the way they prepare,” McIntyre said. “It’s impressive the way our coaches get kids ready to play and the way the kids buy into the game plan whether they’re a starter or not.”

While that helped, field position played a huge role. Creekside’s average starting position was inside the Panthers 47. Nine of the Knights’ drives started at midfield or in Nease territory, which led to 52 points.

That offset a bravura effort from Panthers quarterback Marcus Stokes, who rushed for 59 yards and threw for 309 more before developing a cramp in his leg on Nease’s final scoring drive.

Most of the problems for the Panthers (0-2) stemmed from special teams. The Knights opened with a pooch onside kick, recovered and drove for a 32-yard scoring pass from Edwards to Ashton Reynolds, who led all receivers with 118 yards on six catches, to start the game.

Return man Andrew Kelley twice answered Nease touchdowns with returns of 64 and 45 yards to put his team on Panthers’ turf, and would have had a third in Nease territory if not for a block in the back.

Finally, a snap over the head of Stokes, in punt formation, caused him to scramble for the ball in the end zone. Spinning around, he still was able to get the kick to midfield.

But all those mistakes led to scores.

“We were matching them tick for tack in the first half, but we gotta get better on special teams,” said Panthers coach Collin Drafts, whose team rolled up 318 first-half yards. “We’ve got to get people inside the 25, or 30 at least. Every time they had a short field they took advantage of it.”

While the Creekside defense surrendered yards, they made enough big plays to help the offense pull away. Anthony Akel and Bruno Alves, who also blocked a point-after, had interception returns deep into the Nease side of the field. Those led to two of Williams’ short scoring runs.

“Very important (plays),” Williams said. “Everyone contributed to this win.”

Finally, a recovered onside kick attempt led to Williams’ final burst, a 45-yard run through the middle.

For the Panthers, it was difficult, coming off a loss to Jackson in which Stokes was under the weather. Things don’t get easier next week either, when Nease meets Fleming Island, ranked third in the Super 10.

“Our schedule is tough,” Drafts said. “We’re getting challenged right out of the gate. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of young guys gaining valuable experience. I hate that it has to come in losses. It’s not the start we wanted. I’ve been here before; we’re going to be just fine.”

For Creekside, a start that features a blowout victory over Viera and a defeat of a county rival is the perfect beginning.

“I’m ready to celebrate,” Williams. “We want to show people we’re about it. We want to show we can do anything that people don’t think we can do.”

Creekside 62, Nease 41

Nease, 13, 13, 0, 15 — 41

Creekside, 10, 17, 21, 14 — 62

C – Ashton Reynolds 32 pass from Wilson Edwards (Ronald Daragjati kick)

N – Marcus Stokes 3 run (Daniel Jones kick)

C – Daragjati 21 FG

N – Samuel Milton 2 run (kick failed)

C – Nicky Williams 2 run (Daragjati kick)

C – Williams 2 run (Daragjati kick)

N – Gavin Gmeiner 14 pass from Stokes (Jones kick)

N – Stokes 2 run (kick blocked)

C – Daragjati 26 FG

C – Hampton Riedl 2 pass from Edwards (Daragjati kick)

C – Mark Ranneklev 14 pass from Edwards (Daragjati kick)

C – Williams 2 run (Daragjati kick)

N – Spencer Maddox 6 pass from Stokes (Camryn Smith pass from Stokes)

C – Williams 51 run (Daragjati kick)

N – Smith 1 run (Jones kick)

C – Williams 45 run (Daragjati kick)

Category: N C

First downs: 28 — 19

Rushes-yards: 33-210 — 41-277

Passing: 309 — 222

Comp-Att-Int: 24-50-3 — 17-26-1

Fumbles-lost: 0-0 — 1-1

Penalties-Yards: 2-15 — 8-64

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — N: Samuel Milton 7-79, Stokes 15-59, Da’von Patterson 6-56, Camryn Smith 5-16. C: Williams 25-183, Sean Ashenfelder 6-39, Danny Approbato 8-33, Edwards 1-17, Reynolds 1-5.

PASSING — N: Stokes 24-49-2-309, Zach Buttacavoli 0-1-1-0. C: Edwards 9-14-0-162, Ashenfelder 8-12-1-60.

RECEIVING — N: Maddox 6-89, Smith 5-79, Milton 2-69, Gmeiner 4-28, Landon Patterson 3-26, Camron Telfair 2-15, D. Patterson 2-3. C: Reynolds 6-118, Brendan McMillian 3-32, Riedl 2-25, Eros Taufer 3-20, Williams 2-13, Ranneklev 1-14.