Frederica Academy dominated John Milledge Academy 48-0 on Friday to clinch its second GISA Class 3A state championship in six years.
Unlike the matchup earlier this season that ended with a 14-13 overtime win for John Milledge, the championship game was anything but a defensive battle.
The Knights (10-3) withstood a 13-play opening drive by the Trojans that ate up nearly six minutes of time before it ended with an unsuccessful fake field goal attempt at the 17 yard line. The teams traded possessions until the Knights got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter on a four-play drive sparked by a 62-yard run by Ja’Shawn Sheffield that put the ball on the Trojans 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Patrick Brunson scored on a 7-yard run to give Frederica a 7-0 lead.
The Knights offense got rolling in the second quarter with three touchdowns. On the Trojans first drive of the quarter, Deke Jernigan intercepted a pass to give the Knights good field position on the 22-yard line. On the following play, Brunson made an acrobatic catch on the 8-yard line. Quarterback Jaylin Simpson ran the ball into the end zone on the following play for a 14-0 lead.
After forcing the Trojans to punt on the next possession, the Knights scored again on a methodical drive. It took nine plays for Frederica to get down the field with a 1-yard touchdown run by Harry Veal capping the drive for a 21-0 lead.
After forcing another three and out, Frederica got the ball near midfield. Isaiah Jackson fumbled the ball inside the 10-yard line, but Sheffield recovered the ball on the 6-yard line. Jackson ran the ball in on the following play for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Frederica coach Brandon Derrick was determined not to give the Trojans any momentum to start the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, the Knights successfully converted a double reverse flea flicker for a 53-yard touchdown pass from Simpson to Brunson to pad the lead to 34-0.
The Trojans drove the ball down the field on the next possession, but the Knights made a goal-line stand to keep John Milledge out of the end zone. The ensuing drive stalled, but the Frederica defense held again on the next Trojans possession.
Frederica scored again on an 8-yard run by Sheffield to increase the lead to 41-0 late in the third quarter.
Frederica added another score later in the game on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Sheffield for a final score of 48-0.
Simpson was accurate throughout the game completing 10 of 12 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 44 yards and one touchdown.
Sheffield carried the ball four times for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick Brunson rushed for two touchdowns and caught five passes for 102 yards and one more touchdown.
After the trophy presentation, Derrick praised the effort by his players. He said the reality of winning a state championship probably wouldn’t sink in until the team bus arrived home to St. Simons Island on Saturday.
“We played like we are capable of playing,” he said.
He credited last month’s loss to John Milledge (12-1) for motivating his team as it made its playoff run.
“They were in the zone after that loss,” he said.
As for the effort Friday night, Derrick said his players “kept battling.” He was especially pleased with the team’s defensive effort.
“Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships,” he said. “I thought our kids prepared to be champions.”