PALM COAST — Nobody is going to feel sorry for St. Augustine.
Flagler Palm Coast showed as much when it recovered an onside kick leading 15-0 midway through the first quarter. The Bulldogs (3-1) went on to defeat the Yellow Jackets 47-14 Friday night at Sal Campanella Memorial Stadium.
St. Augustine was young and low on numbers entering the season. Since then the situation has become absurd. Their sophomore quarterback, Sammy Edwards, was out with a cast on his arm. Their freshman quarterback, Riley Stevens, was out with a knee injury. They had no quarterbacks available Friday night, so running back Brandon James and safety Jaden McDowell took direct snaps in a single-wing formation.
"We all found out about it Monday," said Johnson, who ran for 41 yards and a touchdown and completed a 13-yard pass to Justus Johnson during a 19-play touchdown drive.
The Jackets were also missing defensive linemen Robert Zuzu and Darius Stanley, running back Anfernee Wilson and receivers Michael Early and Jose Blanco. More players went down during the game.
"I've never seen anything like this," St. Augustine coach Brian Braddock said.
The Jackets lost their third game in a row after opening the season with a 14-13 road win against Baker County. The three losses match the total number of games they lost during Braddock's first two seasons as head coach in 2016-17.
But Braddock was not offering any excuses.
"They were better than us," he said of the Bulldogs, "but we can compete better."
Even though St. Augustine was forced to play out of a single wing with non-quarterbacks taking snaps, Braddock said the Jackets will still have to be able to complete some passes — they were 1 for 2 with an interception Friday.
"We can't let teams off the hook on third and long," he said.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard early with a safety on a snap over the St. Augustine punter’s head through the end zone following Johnson’s 11-yard loss on second down.
FPC then drove 63 yards for a touchdown as Donovan Montoyo connected with Jordan Belle in the left back corner of the end zone on a 15-yard pass. Belle leaped high and got one foot in bounds to make the catch.
FPC recovered a fumble at St. Augustine’s 38 on the ensuing drive and Montoyo hit former Yellow Jacket Jarien Ramos with a 20-yard touchdown pass to help the Bulldogs take a 15-0 advantage. Deshaun Hugee made it 23-0 with with a 4-yard TD run with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
"We started off slow," Johnson said. "It was our first time running (the offense), and we made a lot of mistakes."
The Yellow Jackets had minus-10 yards of offense to that point, but they drove 80 yards on 19 plays to make it 23-8. Justus Johnson scored on an 8-yard run and Brandon Johnson found Connor Quinney in the end zone for a 2-point conversion pass.
St. Augustine's defense then stepped up, forcing a three-and-out, but any hopes that the undermanned Jackets would make a game of it were dashed when FPC's Ja'Corey Benjamin recovered a fumble and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to make the score 30-8 with 2:52 left in the second quarter.
"That took the wind out of our sails," Braddock said. "It was a huge swing."
After Damien Irven intercepted a Brandon Johnson pass, FPC's Stephen Usina booted a 42-yard field goal nine seconds before halftime to push the lead to 33-8.
A 62-yard run by James Meade in the third quarter set up Brandon Johnson's 3-yard TD run. Meade led the Yellow Jackets with 94 rushing yards, all in the second half.
Montoyo and backup quarterback Preston Roberts each threw two touchdown passes. Roberts tossed a 47-yard touchdown pass to J.T. Dahlberg to put the Bulldogs up 40-8. He added a 5-yard scoring strike to Nick Redding late in the third quarter.
“The biggest part for us was execution,” FPC coach Travis Roland said. “We knew we had to get into the red zone and finish. We were in the red zone seven or eight times last week (in a 21-0 loss to Sanford Seminole) and we just couldn’t finish.
"You have to give St. Augustine a lot of credit," Roland added. "They ran the single wing, and we never saw it. That’s an historic program, but they’re a broke up football team. I didn’t know they were that broke up. Usually you hear about rumors of injuries. I have all the respect in the world for Coach Braddock and his staff.”
It doesn't get easier for the Yellow Jackets, who travel to Bartram Trail next week.