It was all Newberry all night at Santa Fe High School on Friday as the Panthers dominated the Raiders 68-10 to open the high school football season.
Quarterback Keil McGriff threw four touchdown passes while the Panthers’ defense and special teams dominated with a pick-six and two punt return touchdowns.
“We played with good energy,” Newberry coach Ed Johnson said. “I think that’s the biggest thing we can take away from tonight. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s good to be 1-0.”
McGriff, who was named the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game, hit Jaylen Holcombe for a 23-yard touchdown to open up the scoring less than a minute into the game, and hit David Schmidt for a 29-yard touchdown on the next drive.
“We have really good receivers, explosive receivers,” McGriff said. “I felt that they’d get open and make a play if I just gave them the ball and let them go get it.”
From there, a Wyatt Hester 45-yard pick-six on the very next play put Newberry up 21-0 with 7:51 left in the first quarter.
“I was just surprised, it kind of just appeared in my hands,” Hester said. “Very excited and proud of it.”
The Panthers’ defense forced a three-and-out, and McGriff threw another touchdown four plays later with a 42-yarder to Hayden Moore. Kaleb Woods would score from eight yards out on the next drive, and a failed PAT put the Panthers up 34-0 with under two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Panthers’ kept their foot on the gas pedal in the second quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run by Woods, which sealed a running clock for the second half. Newberry only needed one play on the ensuing drive for McGriff to throw his fourth touchdown of the evening on the next drive, a 64-yard strike to Moore to give the Panthers a 47-0 lead.
“The maturation process with Keil has been big,” Johnson said. “He played like a freshman at times last year. He had a really good year for us. Right now, you just see the growth just in his preparation and execution.”
Santa Fe was able to put points on the board after Nick Lawrence drilled a 40-yard field goal following a muffed punt by Newberry.
With a running clock in the second half, the Newberry special teams unit shined with two punt returns for touchdowns. David Schmidt opened up the scoring in the third quarter with a 60-yard return.
“I really want to give the credit to my blockers,” Schmidt said. “I saw the lane part like the Red Sea. I really did feel like Moses putting the staff down.”
Santa quarterback Erik Hockman would give the Raiders’ their first touchdown of the year with a 70-yarder to his brother, Ben Hockman, on a screen pass, making the score 53-10.
An Amarion Cason 52-yard run, a two-point conversion from Logan McCloud and a 30-yard punt return from Ian Hubbert finalized the scoring in the contest.
Newberry (1-0) hosts Hawthorne (1-0) next week, while Santa Fe (0-1) will take a trip to Lakeland, Georgia to face Lanier County (1-0).
Thursday, Aug. 24
Trenton 28, Bell 0
Friday, Aug. 25
Eastside 28, Inlet Grove (Riviera Beach) 9
Newberry 68, Santa Fe (Alachua) 10
Braden River (Bradenton) 34, GHS 20
P.K. Yonge 46, Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) 12
Union County (Lake Butler) 43, Interlachen 0
Hawthorne 26, Middleburg 7
Oak Hall 43, St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 0
Bradford (Starke) 12, Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 0
Anclote (Holiday) 44, Bronson 6
Branford 53, Cedar Creek Christian (Jacksonville) 0
Williston 44, Chiefland 7
Suwannee (Live Oak) 33, Flagler Palm Coast 13
Lafayette (Mayo) 7, Dixie County (Cross City) 6
OFF- Keystone Heights
Saturday, Aug. 26
Buchholz 41, Columbia (Lake City) 13
Fort White 19, Taylor County 13