On Monday night in Williston, the host Red Devils used a dominating run game to stay unbeaten.
The rushing attack was as relentless as the wind in a 42-19 win against visiting Newberry.
It marked the fifth straight game that the Red Devils had scored 42 or more points.
Prior to the contest, Williston football coach Robby Pruitt said one of the keys to the game was first down efficiency because his team is not a 3rd-and-long team.
However, facing a 3rd-and-13 at the Newberry 47-yard line on the opening possession, junior Jharez Williams took an inside handoff and bounced to the outside, racing 47 yards down the right sideline to give Williston (5-0) a 7-0 lead with 9:24 to play in the first quarter.
“That’s a good team,” Pruitt said. “They’ve got a lot of great young kids. We didn’t want to get behind the sticks and we were fortunate to make some third and longs. We’re not normally built that way.”
Newberry (3-2) answered on its first possession, which began on its 35-yard line.
Freshman quarterback Keil McGriff capped the 65-yard scoring drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to leading receiver Michael Moore to tie the game at 7-7 with 5:09 to play in the first quarter.
But that’s the closest the Panthers would get the rest of the night.
The Red Devils took advantage of a short field, beginning their next drive at the Newberry 49-yard line.
Less than two minutes later, senior running back Kyree Edwards, who tallied 216 rushing yards on 19 carries, scored the first of three touchdowns with a 39-yard run and a 14-7 lead with 3:46 to play in the opening quarter.
“He’s a great player, a great kid,” Pruitt said of Edwards, who had 100 of his yards just on his scoring runs of 39, 29, and 32 yards. “He’s the kind of kid that can play at the next level, I think.”
After junior Jace McDonald scored on an 8-yard run for a 21-7 lead with 9:50 to play in the half, Newberry didn’t give up.
McGriff and the Panthers fought back, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass to freshman Kaleb Woods with 7:04 to play in the second quarter.
Down 21-13 with 4:08 to play in the half, it appeared the Panthers were going to get the ball back late in the first half with a chance to close the gap. However, an offsides penalty on 4th-and-5 at the Williston 35-yard line gave the Red Devils new life.
Edwards lined up in the wildcat and picked up nine yards and 11 yards to the Newberry 40-yard line. After a holding penalty, Edwards gained 10 yards and then quarterback Shooby Coleman gained 14 yards on a keeper.
That set up a 29-yard touchdown run by Edwards with 1:03 to play in the half and a 28-13 lead at the break.
“Late in the second quarter we get a big stop, about to get the ball back, and just a young guy getting lined up in the neutral zone, and it’s something we’ll work on and learn from,” Newberry coach Ed Johnson said.
McGriff added a 17-yard touchdown pass to Moore on the first drive of the second half to bring the Panthers within 28-19 with 7:33 to play in the third quarter.
The freshman threw three touchdown passes, giving him nine for the season.
“I thought we pass protected well enough,” Johnson said. “They kind of played us cover zero. I thought we held up just enough in the passing game and that’s something we can definitely build on.”
After Edwards had a 43-yard touchdown run called back, Coleman threw his first touchdown pass of the night. His 25-yard scoring pass to junior Javon Brown extended the lead to 16 at 35-19 late in the third quarter.
“Shooby can throw the ball too,” Pruitt said. “Our goal was to try and keep them off the field and not throw to keep that clock moving but when we have to, he can throw the ball and we’ve got guys who can catch it so we’re going to start working on that a lot more here.”
Edwards finished the scoring with a 32-yard run with 9:29 to play.
“They’re just more physical,” Johnson said. “They hit a couple of big plays that kind of hurt us and we couldn’t consistently get anything going on offense. But our kids fought for 48 minutes. Defensively we’ve just got a lot to work on. We’ll get there.”
Newberry is off this Friday and will host Eastside on Friday, Oct. 14, while Williston is back at home this Friday against Lake Weir (Ocala).
“We’ve got to get better on defense and we’ve got to get more physical,” said Pruitt, who noted his team is still in the weight room working out during the season. “But that will come with getting stronger. We need to get a little stronger and avoid the injury bug, but to be one of the elite teams we’ve got to keep working.”
Monday, Oct. 3 scores
Suwannee (Live Oak) 38, Taylor County (Perry) 0
Mount Dora Christian 13, P.K. Yonge 12
Bell 40, Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) 27
Oak Hall 43, Bronson 14
Eastside 14, North Marion (Citra) 6
Williston 42, Newbery 19
Bradford (Starke) 38, Keystone Heights 0
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Gibbs (St. Pete) at Hawthorne, 7 p.m.