With a little under five minutes to go in a six-point game, Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Freeman shoveled a pass to running back Ty Jenkins.
After shedding the initial tackle attempt, Jenkins sprinted hard down the sideline, and after 46 yards, he found the end zone — and gave his team the separation it needed.
“[Jenkins] had a concussion last week. Didn’t practice all week,” Flagler Palm Coast coach Travis Roland said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
With over 5,000 fans in attendance, the Bulldogs (1-0) defeated crosstown rival Matanzas 35-14 at Sal Campanella Memorial Stadium in the opening game of the season on the night of Friday, Aug. 25. The win ended FPC's two-year-long losing steak to the Pirates.
FPC scored the first 17 points of the game, its first coming at the 6:28 mark in the first quarter following a 25-yard reception by wide receiver Jordan Belle.
In addition to Jenkins, the Bulldogs’ rushing attack was led by quarterback Donovan Montoyo, who carried the ball six times for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Near the end of the first quarter, Montoyo was met by a myriad of defenders at the 10-yard line, but the Bulldog’s offensive line carried him into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown run — the first varsity touch of the sophomore's career.
“You can’t deny Donovan’s legs,” Roland said. “Donovan’s a special football player, and when he develops in the passing game, look out.”
Despite the early deficit, however, Matanzas (0-1) was a able to shrink FPC’s lead thanks to a pair of timely plays.
Branden Gilyard scored on a blocked punt by teammate Shane Riley, giving the Pirates their first points, and a 69-yard catch-and-run by Trenton Steward cut FPC’s lead to three with over a minute left in the opening half.
Steward was the lone bright spot on a difficult night for the Pirates’ offense.
“Just imagine how good that kid is if we could block for him,” Matanzas coach Robert Ripley said of Steward. “He played his guts out. He’s getting hit every play. We got him open, wiggled him free there and got a big pass to make it a football game. … I don’t know what else we could do strategically to put ourselves in a position [to win].”
The Pirates were held to under 100 yards of total offense on the night, including negative-33 yards in the first half, due in part to the play of FPC defensive end Nelson Paul, who totaled four sacks.
Paul said the team's defense has a lot of potential this season.
“From the D-line to the safeties, we’re something elite,” he said. “So, I’m pretty sure we can go somewhere far, and I’m waiting to see what happens.”
Roland, who turned 31 an hour after the game, was asked if he could have received a better birthday present.
“Nope,” he said. “When the momentum shifted, the thing I’m most proud of is that our kids did not waver. They stayed the course, and we finished.”
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