St. Augustine got off to a bit of a slow start in Saturday’s 3rd annual George “Nick” Connor Jamboree hosted by the Purple Knights. They put up just seven points in the first half but got a huge boost in the final 15-minute half from their defense and special teams en route to a 30-0 victory at Tad Gormley Stadium over Booker T. Washington.
“I think Booker T. was doing a great job defending us,” St. Augustine coach Nathaniel Jones said of the first half. “Sometimes it’s your opponent doing a great job that causes you to start out slow. So we give them all the credit for doing what they did in the first half and we just tried to do some things at halftime and we were fortunate enough to come out with the victory.”
Booker T.’s defense held its own throughout the scrimmage, but miscues on on offense and special teams gave the upper hand to “Big Purple.”
St. Augustine’s first big break on special teams came after back-to-back punts by each team to start the second half, and the Purple Knights’ defense continued the trend forcing another 3-and-out. The Lions attempted to punt deep in their own territory, but the rush forced the up-back back into the punter, and the kick bounced off the up-back’s back.
St. Augustine couldn’t scoop and score the loose ball, but Donald Johnson Jr. did fall on it at the 4-yard line setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Mahmood Bailey two plays later.
A similar scenario played out on Booker T.’s ensuing possession when St. Augustine forced another 3-and-out, and this time the Purple Knights got home themselves as Kevin Cooley Jr. blocked a punt that flew out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
“I think if you want to be successful, you have to be great on special teams,” Jones said. “And kudos to our defense making a few plays.”
The safety put the Purple Knights ahead 16-0 with 8:21 left in the game and the momentum remains squarely in St. Augustine’s corner for the rest of the game.
Junior running back Albert Quest V fielded the kick following the safety, and ripped off a huge return down to Booker T.’s 15-yard line. Four plays later, Mahmood powered his way into the end zone from six yards out to put St. Augustine ahead 23-0.
Just when it seemed like the Lions’ luck couldn’t get any worse, St. Augustine forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff that was recovered by Kansas commitment Taiwan Berryhill.
“On defense and special teams we’re just dogs,” said Berryhill, who also had a couple of big hits in the game from his defensive end spot. “And we got the heart and we wanted to get the ball back, so that’s what we did.”
Berryhill’s recovery at Booker T.’s 28-yard line led to the final touchdown of the night for St. Augustine with their second-teamers in the game. Junior running back Shan Brooks was responsible for 27 of the 28 yards on the drive with three carries, the last of which went for a score from 10 yards out. Jaron Marks III tacked on the extra point for a 30-0 lead with 3:17 to play.
St. Augustine’s only score in the first half also came on the ground as sophomore running back Justin Doyle barreled across the goal line for a 3-yard touchdown just 1 minute and 9 seconds into the game. The Purple Knights were assisted by a pair of offside penalties by BTW to start the game, and then a late hit on the return that put St. Augustine just 25 yards away from a score.
The Purple Knight offense put four touchdowns on the board, but didn’t have to travel very far with scoring drives that covered 25, 4, 15 and 28 yards.
“We came out hard and played hard,” said Berryhill, whose defense held BTW to 17 total yards while Lucius Tillery and Josh White intercepted two passes. “We stayed discipline and did what coach told us to do. Over the offseason we had to become a more physical team and that’s what we did. We came out physical and punched them in the mouth.”
“I just want to be a complete team,” Jones said of his goals going forward for his team. “Offense, defense and special teams because you have to win in each phase of the game to have a chance to be successful. So not one (aspect of the) team in particular, we want to be good across the board.”
Booker T. Washington: 17 yards of total offense (-7 rushing, 24 passing)
St. Augustine: 135 yards of total offense (109 rushing, 26 passing)
Booker T. Washington
Rushing: Keenen Boyd, 5-6; Alden Dawson, 3-(-6); Kentrell Harris, 3-(-6); Esco Bickham, 3-(-1).
Receiving: Coryell Pierce, 1-22; Alden Dawson, 1-2.
Passing: Kentrell Harris, 2-12, 24 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs.
Rushing: Kendell Sampson Jr., 7-35; Shan Brooks, 3-27, 1 TD; Justin Doyle, 6-22, 1 TD; Albert Quest V, 4-16; Mahmood Bailey, 5-9, 2 TDs.
Receiving: Mahmood Bailey, 2-24 yards; August Banks Jr., 1-2.
Passing: Kendell Sampson Jr., 3-8, 26 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.
St. Augustine — Justin Doyle 3 run (Jaron Marks III kick), 13:51, 0-7.
St. Augustine — Mahmood Bailey 1 run (Marks III kick), 9:31, 0-14.
St. Augustine — Safety, 8:21, 0-16.
St. Augustine — Bailey 6 run (Marks III kick), 6:26, 0-23.
St. Augustine — Shan Brooks 10 run (Marks III kick), 3:17, 0-30.
NEXT UP: Booker T. Washington opens its regular season Friday on the road against Slidell at 7 p.m. while St. Augustine will be in action the following day hosting McDonogh 35 at 6 p.m.