• Peniel quarterback Andrew Dennin looks upfield in the first period against Newberry Christian. (ANDY HALL / Palatka Daily News)

Cold Start On Hot Day

Peniel Baptist struggles at outset of six-man jamboree, then gets going

GAINESVILLE – It wouldn’t be accurate to call Saturday’s spring jamboree like night and day for the Peniel Baptist Academy six-man football team.

It didn’t seem like spring, either – brutally hot, even when the Warriors started at 10 o’clock in the morning against Newberry. It only got hotter when they played the third 20-minute period against host Countryside Christian.

Maybe the results were like night and day – a 30-6 loss to Newberry, followed by a 22-6 victory over Countryside – but Peniel actually put up better offensive numbers in the loss. The Warriors gained 111 yards against Newberry, 73 against Countryside.

So began the rebuilding process for a team losing seven seniors from a 9-3, Florida Christian Association or Private and Parochial Schools playoff team. The Warriors had barely two weeks to practice because of a later-than-usual baseball season and lost another day to following the softball team to its Final Four appearance and played about the way third-year head coach Jonathan Goodwin expected.

“The first game had a deer-in-the-headlights look, though (Newberry) is pretty athletic. You could tell they were a little nervous,” he said. “We had a talk in between (periods) about running the ball and not being nervous. We did a better job – specifically Matt Comer, who ran with a purpose when he got the ball.”

Comer got it just twice, but ran 23 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched it against Countryside at the 9:29 mark of the third period. Quarterback Andrew Dennin scored the one-point conversion in a keeper – there was no kicking or punting in the jamboree – and it was 22-0.

Comer’s touchdown came three plays after the second interception of the period by Aiden Sullivan, whose first was returned 19 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-down pass on the game’s opening series. Dennin ran for two points, it was 8-0 and Peniel was on its way.

Countryside was forced four and out and Lucas Chapman swept 15 yards for a touchdown on the Warriors’ first offensive play of the third period. Dennin threw to Comer for one point.

The Minutemen got on the board at the 7:11 mark of the period, but Peniel went on a time-consuming drive, highlighted by Chapman’s 35-yard run, to put aside any thought of a comeback for the home team.

“The (Countryside) game, we did a lot better defensively, other than their touchdown. Everyone really improved from the first game to the second game,” Goodwin said.

A significantly bigger team than Peniel, Newberry Christian parlayed its six into a ground game that scored two touchdowns covering 65 yards and three others of 20, 4 and 29 yards – the final score coming as time expired one play after a fumble.

Dennin scored for the Warriors when the quarterback dropped to throw, then sidestepped defenders to run 65 yards for a touchdown.

Dennin finished with five carries for 84 yards against Newberry and completed 5 of 11 passes for 15 yards; he was intercepted once. He did not run against Countryside and threw only three passes, all incomplete. Chapman had seven carries for 62 yards on the day.

“it’s about what I expected for two weeks. We’ve just got to get in better shape,” Goodwin said.

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