In a battle of two Indians teams, it took nearly the entire first half before the hosting and undefeated Keystone Heights team took control and never looked back in a 30-14 win.
The visiting Fort White Indian (3-2) took a 14-6 lead with 9:26 to go in the second quarter on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Philpot to Tafari Moe, but then Keystone Heights (6-0) used a suffocating defense and a power running game led by Dalton Hollingsworth to take charge.
“We didn’t have very good practices this week and I was worried about that,” said Keystone Heights coach Chuck Dickinson. “We needed a game like this. Give Fort White credit, they battled hard. That was the first time we have been behind all year.”
Keystone knotted the game at 14 apiece on the next drive when Logan Williams hauled in a 32-yard reception for a touchdown and Hollingsworth ran in the 2-point conversion with 5:03 left in the half.
Fort White went three-and-out on its next possession and didn’t help itself with a 3-yard punt that bounced backward. Big runs by Hollingsworth and a 15-yard facemask penalty set up a Tyler Jenkins 13-yard touchdown run and another Hollingworth 2-point conversion for a 22-14 advantage.
Following a scoreless third quarter that featured Keystone Heights’ defense recovering a fumble and Fort White’s defense ending a Keystone drive on a turnover on downs, Hollingsworth took over in the final frame, pounding the Fort White defense. His 1-yard score with 8:54 left in the game sealed the contest and put Keystone Heights ahead 30-14.
Fort White drove to the Keystone 25-yard line on the next drive, but with 8:14 remaining, Jenkins stepped in front of a pass at the 5-yard line returned the interception 17 yards. From there, Keystone ran out the clock.
In the first quarter, Fort White recovered a bad Keystone handoff on the third play from scrimmage and drove 46 yards, keyed by a 35-yard pass to Houston Crews to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Philpot found Maliki Clark for a short touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
“That was our first turnover of the year,” Dickinson said, adding Keystone’s defense had forced 12 takeaways coming into the contest.
Keystone Heights responded quickly when Fort White attempted an onside kick but Keystone recovered at the Fort White 47. Keystone’s drive was capped by a Hollingsworth 5-yard run up the middle for a score, but the 2-point run failed and Keystone trailed 7-6 with 3:22 left in the opening quarter.
Keystone Heights hosts Crescent City next Friday while Fort White has a bye week before traveling to Cross City to play Dixie County on Oct. 15.
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