For most of the first half, Matanzas played toe to toe with one of the best football teams in Northeast Florida.
The Pirates scored on their first two possessions and led St. Augustine 14-7 before the Yellow Jackets closed out the second quarter with 17 straight points on the way to a 37-21 victory Friday, Oct. 22, at St. Augustine.
"We couldn't have scripted a better opening start," Matanzas coach Matt Forrest said. "There are no moral victories, but I thought we played our best game of the season against the toughest team on our schedule to date."
Noah Cundiff ended an eight-play, game-opening drive with a 17-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Dakwon Evans. After the Yellow Jackets tied it at 7-7, Matanzas moved methodically downfield again with Evans closing out an 11-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
"The first half we gave it everything we could," Forrest said. "We played well offensively, but we made mistakes on defense and special teams, and when you play a good team like that, you can't give them anything.
"St. Augustine has a longstanding tradition," Forrest added. "And the thing about them is they don't get rattled. In the third quarter when they went up by 17 we went into a lull."
The Pirates would not score again until Tate Winecoff punched it in with a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
"Our offensive line played a great game," Forrest said. "Jordan Mills played well on both sides of the ball. Dakwon Evans played his best game of the season, and Noah, besides his touchdown catch, caught a lot of balls underneath."
Cundiff had 12 receptions for 112 yards. Evans completed 21 of 27 passes for 169 yards.
St. Augustine improved to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in District 4-6A. Matanzas, which saw its two-game winning streak snapped, fell to 3-6 and 1-3.
After 10 straight weeks of football, including the kickoff classic, the Pirates will finally have a bye week before hosting cross-town rival Flagler Palm Coast on Nov. 5 in the season-ending Potato Bowl.
"We're going to rest and recover," Forrest said. "A lot of guys are banged up. It's been a long season. We're going to focus on ourselves, trying to get better, and we'll worry about Week 11 when it comes."