ST. PETERSBURG — Since the playoffs began last week, Rayshawn Jenkins and Todd Macon have developed into a 1-2 punch, a devastating quick change that staggers an opponent with one style only to knock them out with another.
With Admiral Farragut needing to control the clock to keep Canterbury’s explosive off the field in the Class 2A region final, the Blue Jackets relied on Jenkins’ cutback ballet and Macon’s bowling-ball brutishness.
Together, the two combined for 335 yards rushing in Admiral Farragut’s 38-24 victory Friday. The Blue Jackets will play in the 2A state semifinals for the first time and host defending state champion Belle Glades Glades Day on Dec. 2.
“We have a good combination with myself and Todd, so we just decided to stick with what’s working,” Jenkins said. “Why not run the ball.”
Jenkins, who came back four weeks ago from a broken rib, received a generous amount of handoffs while lining up in a variety of ways. He started the game at quarterback, but his two touchdowns on runs of 11 and 3 yards in the first half came as a tailback.
That put the Blue Jackets (11-1) ahead 14-0.
The Crusaders were supposed to counter with a devastating running game of their own. But tailback Brent O’Neal separated a shoulder in practice two weeks ago. He was limited in practice this week and took a shot to numb the pain Friday. He had minus-1 yard on four carries.
So Canterbury (10-2) turned to its passing game to rally. Jake Holsinger hit DaSean Thomas on touchdown passes of 53 and 7 yards to tie the game at 14.
But with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, Blue Jackets quarterback Colby Robinson lofted a 53-yard pass to Jenkins. That play set up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Alvin Cunningham to put AFA ahead 21-14 at the half.
The Blue Jackets took control early in the third quarter when Macon scooped up a fumble and raced 51 yards a touchdown to make it 28-14.
“The ball was lying there, so I just decided to pick it up and make a play,” Macon said.
AFA added to its lead when Louis Bobelis kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter. Trailing 31-14, O’Neal returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards for a touchdown to cut it to 31-21.
On the next play from scrimmage, Jenkins raced around the right end, dodging two tacklers and stiff-arming another on a 75-yard touchdown run to give the Blue Jackets a 38-21 lead. Canterbury’s Matt Wylie kicked a 35-yard field goal to end the scoring.
“I knew I would probably get the ball a lot,” said Jenkins, who finished with 205 yards on 15 carries. “I was just able to work through the holes.”
Jenkins’ ankle-snapping elusiveness is contrast to Macon’s straight-ahead style. The two have added a nice wrinkle to the offense and help keep each other fresh late in games. The toughest assignment may fall to the coaches, who have to divide the rushes — a nice dilemma to have.
“We were able to run well with the both of them,” AFA coach Chris Miller said. “And a lot of credit goes to the offensive line. They have been on a mission and have been opening holes the past two weeks.”