UC won't let up on Raiders
CRESCENT CITY – Quarterback Naykee Scott did a good amount of running for his football life Friday night at Wisnoski Field at Wiltcher Stadium.
Against an aggressive and fast front seven, Scott was sent to the turf 10 times for sacks, some in which he barely had time to set himself up. But twice, he escaped the clutches of defenders and scored on touchdown runs of 70 and 34 yards, keeping his Crescent City High School Raiders in a close battle.
In the end, the University Christian defense put the clamps on Scott and his teammates and left with a 33-15 victory to improve to 3-1.
The loss was the first for the Raiders after they pitched 21-0 and 41-0 shutouts against Lecanto and The Nation Christian from Port St. Lucie. Unlike those games, the Raiders had their hands full with an active defensive front that made life tough on Scott.
“They ran to the ball well,” Raiders coach Clarence “Pooh Bear” Williams said. “They don’t have a great player, but they have a great team. I knew this was going to be a challenge to our offensive line, and after seeing (University Christian) play, that was about what I thought they’d do.”
Defensive end Derrick Stumph had a big night for the Christians, sacking Scott 2 1/2 times and recovering late fumble by running back Kevin Williams to help seal the deal. Teammates Leggarius Johnson, Shemar Rodriguez and Jackie Dinh each had a sack and a half.
“The goal for the offensive line – for all of us – is just to get better an better,” coach Williams said. “We knew who we were playing and we knew we could match up with them skill-wise, but their defensive line played well. I’m proud of our guys. We know we’ve got to do better in our preparation and I’m demanding that challenge to our players. I’ve got to push them harder.”
If anything, though, the Crusaders weren’t going to have as easy a walk in the park as they did a year ago in a 55-28 win over the Raiders. Crescent City hit the Christians on their second possession when Scott crossed up the defense with a keeper. Avoiding early tackles, Scott had lots of land to navigate as no defender could be seen within 25 yards. When defenders finally closed in, Scott changed fields, followed a block and dashed into the end zone for a 70-yard score. Christian Lopez added the extra-point kick.
The Christians answered when quarterback Ridge Jacobs hit running back Kentrelle Williams over the middle with a pop pass, made a Raiders defender miss, and was off to the races for a 62-yard score to tie it up after Sami Safar kicked the extra point.
The UC defense flexed its muscles, collecting its first of 10 sacks with Jaedon Stoshak chasing Scott down for a five-yard loss. A high snap on the punt attempt forced Lopez to jump on the ball at the 16 and take a hard shot to the back, but no official threw a flag. Lopez got up and pushed the player who hit him in the back and was flagged for a personal foul, putting the ball at the Raider 8. Three plays later, a broken play turned into a touchdown as Jacobs rifled a pass to Stoshak in the back of the end zone for the touchdown that gave the Christians a 14-7 lead with 5:10 to go in the first quarter.
More problems followed for the Raiders in the second quarter – another high snap on another punt attempt in the end zone forced Lopez to step on the end line for a safety to make it 16-7. Max McClendon, the Christians’ top running back who was held to 74 yards rushing on 24 carries, scored on a 1-yard run with 1:22 to go before halftime. The key play in the 94-yard, eight-play drive was a 70-yard catch-and-run pass play from Jacobs to Kentrelle Williams for which defender Mario Miler seemed to have tackled Williams, but Williams rolled over Miler, then continued running until being caught at the Raider 22.
“It was a teaching moment right there,” Williams said. “I’m always telling these guys to finish the play. We let up instead of playing until the whistle.”
Scott, who went for 88 yards on 20 carries, dodged and weaved through Christian defenders for his 34-yard scoring run with 9:38 left in the game. The subsequent 2-point conversion pass to Kevin Williams made it 23-15.
But University Christian answered with a 5-minute, 36-second drive that went 77 yards in 11 plays, capped off by Safar’s 20-yard field goal with 4:02, making it 26-15.
Trapped back deep in their territory, the Raiders went for it on fourth and 19 from their own 11-yard line. Scott, who was 5-of-22 passing for 62 yards, came up short on the pass. Three plays later, Kentrelle Williams, who finished with 89 yards on 11 carries to go along with his three catches for 134 yards, found his way to the outside and scored on a 7-yard score with 2:01 left to all but end it.
Now the focus is on the trip to Wildwood to face a Wildcats team that refused to play the Raiders a year ago after Hurricane Irma postponed the game. By not playing the game, the Raiders did not earn the points they may have gotten from winning to make the state playoffs.
“I don’t have to get them motivated for Wildwood,” coach Williams said. “We’ll definitely work better toward getting ready for them. They’re a good-looking team from what I saw of them. Our kids will be ready for (Wildwood).”