JACKSONVILLE – For Ribault and head coach Anthony Flynn it really was a tale of two halves for the Trojans.
Miami Norland took advantage of numerous turnovers and held on in the end to knock off host Ribault 23-12 at Alvin White Stadium.
Whether it was first game jitters or playing in a slow rain; Ribault committed three first quarter turnovers and four turnovers overall in the first half that led to 21 points for the visiting Miami Norland Vikings.
Ribault was unable to play its kickoff classic against Providence due to severe weather and it showed against a solid Miami Norland team, who whipped North Miami 47-0 last week in its pre-season game.
“It hurt us not being able to play last week but there is no excuse we didn’t execute and didn’t play well,” Flynn said, “We committed 22 penalties and gave up what 400 yards of offense.”
Miami Norland linebackers Vosean Joseph (Florida commit), Emmett Rice (Florida State commit) and Kion Holder constantly stuffed out the Trojans running game and were constantly in the backfield or making their presence known with jarring hits.
On the Trojans opening drive, Miami Norland defensive back Val Mayes scooped up a fumble and returned it 27 yards down to the 3-yard line. Two plays later the Vikings scored and lead 7-0 just two minutes into the game.
Two possessions later, another fumble resulted in another easy score for the Vikings as Rice returned the fumble 15 yards for a score, but was called back for illegal forward pitch.
Miami Norland still held the ball at the 20 and looked well on its way to increasing its lead to two scores, however senior safety Terry Stripling made a one-handed interception to stop the potential scoring drive.
The momentum didn’t last long though as senior quarterback Derias McGoogin fumbled the ball on the ensuing play.
The Trojans defense led by Stripling and safety Desean McNair bended but didn’t break holding the Vikings to a field goal attempt that sailed wide right keeping the score at 7-0 with 2:34 left in the first quarter.
A low snap led to another fumble recovery for the Vikings setting them again just outside the red zone. Senior quarterback Roderick Robinson connected with DeJarnis Paul for a 10 yard strike increasing the lead to 14-0 five minutes before the half.
With time winding down in the first half, Robinson scored on a 6 yard bootleg run with .04 left giving the Vikings a 21-0 halftime lead.
Faced with what seemed like a monumental deficit at the half, Ribault wouldn’t go down without swinging.
The defense fired the offense up the fans up by forcing Miami Norland into back-to-back punts on their first two drives of the second half.
McNair put the Trojans back into the game temporarily with an electrifying 70 yard touchdown run down the Miami Norland sideline untouched.
Flynn elected to go for two and McGoogin was stopped, as the score remained 21-6 with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
The second three and out and punt, put the Trojans into position to make a game out of it in the third quarter.
Ribault, which finally was able to hold onto the ball in the second half drove inside the ten and on the verge of making it a one score game.
However heavy pressure from Joseph, Rice and Holder forced the Trojans to go for it fourth down and the Vikings defense held forcing a turnover on downs at the 20-yard line.
Heading into the fourth, Ribault still had the momentum it appeared, but Miami Norland wouldn’t budge.
McGoogin hit Treshawn Harris on a backwards pass, Harris pulled up and found Michael McCray wide open putting the Trojans past midfield again.
Yet again the Vikings defense came up huge again stopping the Trojans on a fourth and two play.
With the clock winding down, the Trojans needed a big play to stay in the game and got it.
Jaalen Ford picked off Robinson and returned it 30 yards for a score cutting the lead to 21-12. Flynn again elected to go for two again and the Trojans failed.
Not kicking the two extra points came back to haunt them instead of being down 21-14, the Trojans were down two scores late in the fourth quarter.
Miami Norland punted the ball back to Ribault with 2:37 left in the game giving the Trojans a likely final chance.
The Vikings brought the house and Holder hit Jhamaal Marsh for a loss on first down. Joseph and Rice teamed up to hit the Trojans for another huge loss and safety in the end zone giving the Vikings some breathing room and 23-12 lead with 1:31 left in the game.
Miami Norland got the ball back and behind Robinson, the Vikings marched the Vikings down the field and inside the red zone with under a minute left in the game.
Robinson took a knee behind the 1-yard line on the final play to end the game.
The Trojans defense pitched a shutout in the second half something that could pay huge dividends for them down the road.
“In the second half we played a lot better and twice we had the ball inside the twenty and couldn’t score,” Flynn added. “We have a lot of work to do but I still have a lot of confidence in us.”
“We have a big time schedule, with games against [former] state champion Miami Norland, 2-time state champs Trinity, an upcoming Mandarin team, undefeated First Coast team, arch rival Raines who is loaded and also solid Suwannee and Yulee teams.”
“We will bounce back from this and watch film. This will motivate us. It’s a long season,” Flynn said.
Ribault (0-1) will have to get over this one quickly traveling to defending back-to-back Class 3A state champion Jacksonville Trinity Christian next week.
“I’m going to tell the team it’s like David vs Goliath, we just will have to cast more than four stones against a solid Trinity team. You can’t give Trinity the ball like we did today and expect to win.”
Miami Norland (1-0) will take on American next Thursday night at FIU North Miami.