The home team was focused and ready to fight to end the losing streak that has been cussed and discussed in the Ancient City.
But when Brandon Johnson scored St. Augustine’s second defensive touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the first half, the game was all but over.
A third defensive touchdown, this time by cornerback Jaden McDowell with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, punctuated a second half where the visitors punched Menendez in the mouth en route to a 65-14 win.
“It feels great,” said St. Augustine offensive lineman Kaleb Farris. “There was a lot of talking this week. We came out and performed and did what we needed to do to get the job done.”
The 65 points were the most the Yellow Jackets have scored in the 17-year history of this rivalry. Friday marked the fifth time St. Augustine scored 50 or more points against Menendez. The visitors were aided by defensive touchdowns by Rylan Shugart, Johnson and McDowell.
“The thing with our defense is you might get them one time — they might slip it one time — but you won’t get them twice,” said St. Augustine running back Fre’Quan Sparrow. “That’s what so good about them. Then our (offensive line) had a good night and took advantage of what was in front of them.”
A good night is an understatement. Unofficially, the Yellow Jackets ran for 363 yards and six touchdowns. Sparrow had 11 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson had six carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Then there was senior Dexter Brown who needed only 16 carries to produce 216 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Brown’s burst up the middle with two minutes remaining gave St. Augustine its ninth touchdown of the night, and broke the record for most points scored in the series. St. Augustine beat Menendez 63-0 in 2007.
For the first 15 minutes of the game, few would have envisioned the scoring record would be in jeopardy.
St. Augustine received the opening kickoff and marched up the field in six plays. Brown bolted through the middle of the Menendez defense untouched for a 29-yard touchdown with 8:49 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was no good after it clanked off the upright.
Menendez (1-1) wasted little time in responding. Darian Oxendine’s 68-yard run on the Falcons’ first offensive snap gave the Falcons first and goal. Kenny Logan plunged in from a yard away and Menendez took the lead when Estin Thiele converted the extra point.
Momentum appeared to be in favor of the home team when Brown fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive. For the fourth time this season, St. Augustine committed a turnover and an opponent could not capitalize as the Falcons turned the ball over on downs with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter.
That was the last time St. Augustine’s offense would be denied.
“The Fatboys were moving everybody,” Brown said about his teammates up front. “The Fatboys were doing what fatboys are supposed to do: Move people. They were moving everyone. (Farris) was blocking great up front. Darrell Farrell was blocking phenomenal up front. All five of them did a great job. When they are blocking like that, you have to have a day like this.”
St. Augustine racked up 519 yards. Senior quarterback Austin Reed was a perfect 9 for 9 for 156 yards. However, St. Augustine began to assert its dominance once Reed stopped throwing midway through the second quarter.
Shugart picked up a Menendez fumble and took it to the house with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter to give St. Augustine a 23-7 lead.
Menendez responded with an 11-play, 82-yard drive that was highlighted by quarterback Oxendine finding Logan for a 40-yard connection on fourth down. Tye Edwards’ only carry of the night, a 2-yard touchdown with 2:27 remaining in the first half, cut the deficit to 23-14.
Edwards’ run was only the second time in series history the Falcons scored two or more touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets. But the home team allowed two more touchdowns before intermission.
“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Menendez coach Patrick Turner said. “When you give a good football team, not just turnovers, but a turnover and scores, you don’t have a chance. You don’t give yourself a chance. I honestly believe that was the difference in the ball game. You take that aspect of this game out of the picture and it’s an absolutely different ballgame. We were never able to recover from shooting ourselves in the foot repeatedly.”
Menendez committed five turnovers on the night. St. Augustine’s McDowell ended the first half intercepting a deep pass intended for Logan. McDowell capped the defensive dominance with a pick-six with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
“There was a lot of trash talk,” McDowell said. “We had to come out and we had to come out as a team and show them who we are: The St. Augustine Yellow Jackets.”