Chiefland dominates Newberry to reach semifinals

Chiefland's Jonathan Adams recovered a Newberry fumble in the end zone for a first quarter touchdown on Friday.
Chiefland's Jonathan Adams recovered a Newberry fumble in the end zone for a first quarter touchdown on Friday. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

Chiefland scored on offense, defense and special teams in the opening quarter of a 49-7 Region 1R-4 Quarterfinal win over Newberry on Friday.

Chiefland's Dakota Fisher with a stiff arm on Newberry's Keil McGriff on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Chiefland’s Dakota Fisher with a stiff arm on Newberry’s Keil McGriff on Friday.

Behind 17 seniors who came off a deep playoff run that ended in the state semifinals last year, the hosting No. 3 seed Indians (7-2) used their experience against the youthful No. 6 seed Panthers (6-4) in controlling the game from start to finish.  

Coming off a 57-28 home loss to Williston last Friday in the regular season finale, Chiefland coach James Corbin knew his team needed to search themselves on how they would respond going into the playoffs.

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“The biggest thing was where were our kids going to be mentally coming into this week,” Chiefland coach James Corbin said. “From a talent aspect, we knew we had the upper hand for this week especially with Newberry being as young as they are, but it was really going to come down to our resiliency and see how our kids respond.

“We knew Newberry was definitely talented enough that if we were going to spend the entire week sulking and pointing fingers at one another that we weren’t going to be able to get over that. But I’m really happy with the way they responded and the way they came out and played tonight.”

Newberry stopped the Indians on their opening drive inside the red zone, but Chiefland’s defense forced a three-and-out and took advantage quickly when Osten Jones fielded a punt in traffic and raced 48 yards for a touchdown.

It didn’t take long before the Indians struck again with Newberry facing 3rd-and-11 from its 19-yard line and the center snap sailed past quarterback Keil McGriff. The ball was eventually recovered in the end zone by Chiefland’s Jonathan Adams for a 13-0 lead.

Newberry's Mykah Newton zeros in on Chiefland's Michael Tovine for a first quarter sack on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Mykah Newton zeros in on Chiefland’s Michael Tovine for a first quarter sack on Friday.

The Panthers went three-and-out on their next offensive series and a shanked punt set Chiefland up on the Newberry 43-yard line. The Indians used eight straight runs – keyed by five to Dakota Fisher – and found the end zone again on a 3-yard Fisher run with 56 seconds left in the opening quarter and a 21-0 lead.

“You could see it tonight, they were definitely experienced, they’ve been here before,” Newberry coach Ed Johnson said. “They didn’t let the moment become too big for them and I kind of felt like we did in certain situations, kind of let the pressure of the playoffs get to us. It’s a good team, an experienced group that’s been together for a long, long time and you can see it.”

Following another Newberry punt to the Chiefland 15-yard line, it took only two plays for the Indians to score as Donovan Minichello found an opening down the right sideline for a 78-yard run.

Chiefland's Osten Jones takes a punt return back 48 yards for a touchdown against Newberry on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Chiefland’s Osten Jones takes a punt return back 48 yards for a touchdown against Newberry on Friday.

Kaleb Woods put Newberry on the board on a 3-yard run that was set up by a McGriff to Michael Moore 65-yard pass.

Chiefland answered with one play on its ensuing drive when Fisher raced untouched for a 65-yard touchdown run and a 35-7 lead with 9:55 left in the half.

“Dakota, he really did something different tonight,” Corbin said. “Not that he can’t do that on any given night, but tonight there were some gaping holes created by our offensive line. I know he had 190 (yards) in the first half and that’s not something you get every week.”

Neither team scored again in the first half as Newberry turned the ball over on downs and Paul Davis and T.J. Pettigrew both had interceptions. Chiefland, though, lost a fumble, missed a field goal attempt and punted.

In the third quarter, Newberry went 3-and-out on its first drive and Chiefland’s offense received a boost from Clint Thomas, one of its offensive stars this season, who didn’t play in the first half.

“Clint was sick this week and missed some practice time,” Corbin said. “We do things here that if you miss some practice, you’re going to sit for the first half. He knew it was a matter of time before he came in and I knew regardless of what the score was on the scoreboard, he’s somebody I want to get involved in the football game. And he came out here and immediately made his presence felt.”

Thomas would catch three passes for 49 yards, setting up Davis for a 23-yard touchdown run that put the Indians ahead 42-7 with 8:03 to go in the third quarter and trigger a running clock.

Chiefland's Anthony Blackman follows Kade Meeks to the 4-yard line against Newberry on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish
Chiefland’s Anthony Blackman follows Kade Meeks to the 4-yard line against Newberry on Friday.

Newberry’s next series ended when Adams sacked McGriff on fourth-and-5.

Thomas snagged two more passes for 41 yards and Fisher would add his third score of the game on a 4-yard run for a 49-7 lead.  

Chiefland will travel to No. 2 seed Pahokee (8-2) next Friday. “It really comes down to us, how do we execute, do we have these stupid penalties, are we turning over the ball, it’s those things that are going to make the difference, because honestly, it does,” Corbin said with the team’s matchup against Pahokee.

Chiefland's Paul Davis intercepted this Newberry pass in the second quarter on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Chiefland’s Paul Davis intercepted this Newberry pass in the second quarter on Friday.

Friday results

FHSAA Regional Quarterfinals

Class 1R-Region 3

No. 4 Madison County 36, No. 5 Fort White 0

No. 3 Lafayette (Mayo) 35, No. 6 Branford 7

Class 1R-Region 4

No. 3 Chiefland 49, No. 6 Newberry 7

Class 2S-Region 1

No. 2 Suwannee (Live Oak) 39, No. 7 Walton (DeFuniak Springs) 0

Class 2S-Region 2

No. 1 Bradford (Starke) 48, No. 8 Crescent City 0

No. 5 Eastside 27, No. 4 North Marion (Citra) 14

Class 3S-Region 1

No. 3 Columbia (Lake City) 29, No. 6 Lincoln (Tallahassee) 6

Class 4S-Region 1

No. 3 Buchholz 35, No. 6 Pace 34

Saturday, Nov. 12

Class 1R-Region 4
No. 5 Wildwood (7-2) at No. 4 Williston (10-0), 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 18

Regional Semifinals

Class 1R-Region 3

No. 4 Madison County at No. 1 Union County (Lake Butler)

Class 1R-Region 4

No. 3 Chiefland at No. 2 Pahokee

No. 4 Williston/No. 5 Wildwood winner (Saturday) at No. 1 Hawthorne

Class 1S-Region 2

No. 3 P.K. Yonge at No. 2 Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy (Melbourne)

Class 2S-Region 1

No. 3 West Florida at No. 2 Suwannee (Live Oak)

Class 2S-Region 2

No. 5 Eastside at No. 1 Bradford (Starke)

Class 3S-Region 1

No. 3 Columbia (Lake City) at No. 2 Escambia (Pensacola)

Class 4S-Region 1

No. 7 Crestview at No. 3 Buchholz

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