For the record, it came on a 42-yard burst stopped by one of the few things capable of stopping Jaylyn Session Friday night – the clock.
Time ran out on him in the first half, but not before he broke his school’s 25-year-old, single-game rushing record and the Palatka Panthers were well on their way to a 47-7 rout of Belleview at Bennett-Cooper Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Session finished with 20 carries for 271 yards, breaking the record of 254 set in 1993 by Lee Johnson against Bradford. The 42-yard run at the end of the half gave Session 257 and he ran just twice in the second half
Proving himself a heck of a backup plan, Demontae Ashley may have a record himself.
In for hobbled starting quarterback Mitchell McKinnon, Ashley threw for four touchdowns – possibly another school record, but it was not immediately known after the game. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 146 yards. The touchdown pass plays went 46 and 25 yards to Treyvon Williams, 26 yards to Delton Nealy and 3 yards to Faison Sutton.
Big fun for the 2-1 Panthers, posting their most one-sided victory since a 56-13 rout of Bradford in 2014. Belleview has been outscored 137-13 in an 0-3 start.
A track sprinter who played little football before this year, Session has 549 yards in three games. Friday’s record seemed to surprise him and stunned first-year PHS coach Willie Fells.
“What in the world? It didn’t feel like he did that,” said Fells, a Palatka linebacker in the 1993 game in which Johnson ran for 254. “(To gain) 271 speaks to Jaylyn’s speed and his ability to make plays, but it also speaks to what our offensive line did. Clay Sipprell made pancake block after pancake block.”
Session scored only one touchdown – Palatka’s first, a 14-yard blast up the middle in with 6:52 left in the first quarter – but when the Rattlers weren’t chasing him, they found themselves helpless to contain small, speedy receivers like the 5-foot-5, 130-pound Williams and the 5-8, 130-pound Nealy.
Ashley took full advantage of their speed and his protection.
“Demontae Ashley did a great job in just a few days preparing,” Fells said. “He made some really crisp throws. We were able to show our explosiveness.”
Sutton scored on both his touches, the 3-yard flip from Ashley and on a 15-yard run. The other Palatka touchdown was Shamar Curry’s 40-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter as the mercy rule running clock went into effect. The Panthers had only three offensive plays in the second half, none in the fourth period.
As little as they had the ball in the second half, they still outgained the Rattlers, 423 yards in 155. Belleview spent much of the night desperately flinging the ball around the yard, making good on one deep ball – a 35-yard touchdown pass from freshman Demetrius McCants to Kobe Pilcher with 25 seconds left in the first half. Abrie Williams and Calvant Canty came up with interceptions on other longballs.
“They shouldn’t have scored – although we played great defense and had a touchdown defensively,” Fells said. “They worked hard and we’re going to enjoy this win.”
Session scored the icebreaking touchdown, then Ashley hit Nealy for 26 yards and a touchdown as Palatka went up 14-0 in the first period. The lead grew to 35-0 on the 25-yard, Ashley-Williams hookup and Sutton’s two TDs before the Rattlers got on the board.
Ashley’s 46-yard dart to Williams made it 41-7 in the third, but a missed extra point kept the running clock from kicking in until Curry’s fumble return in the fourth.
Conversion attempts were a problem for the Panthers, though Williams wound up dashing for a pair of two-point conversions after high snaps. Christian Beck made one of three PAT kicks with one blocked. Part of the problem was that the normal deep snapper – Ashley – already had a full plate, not to mention a sore back.
“We weren’t getting used to our other snapper’s timing. We’ve still got some things we need to clean up,” Fells said.
Palatka opens District 5-5A competition next week at Orange Park Ridgeview, a 42-7 winner Friday over Jacksonville Westside.