As the Gainesville Purple Hurricanes continued to rise in the polls, it seemed like their rivals from Eastside would be outmatched when they met up for their battle at Citizens Field. Coming into the game it looked like Gainesville might run away with it, but Rams head coach Jeff Parker thought they had a shot. You never know in a rivalry game.
It was a standing room only crowd at Citizens Field as the Rams took the ball to start the game. One of the questions coming in was whether Rams quarterback Sir Jackson would return to play after missing two weeks with injury. Sure enough, the senior did come out, but the Rams went three and out on thier first series.
Then the storm rolled in, and on their second play from scrimmage, Gainesville quarterback Mark Cato completed a 50 yard touchdown pass to Larry Prunty.
The Canes just rolled on from there. Even without Gator commit wide receiver Chris Thompson on the field (still wearing a boot), the Canes dropped 40 points on their cross-town rivals.
It was a game lead by the 12th graders. Mark Cato racked up four total touchdowns: two in the air, and another two with his feet. The senior threw for 184 yards, and was particularly successful on the play action fake, starting with the bomb to Prunty in the first quarter.
On the ground, Gainesville’s power back senior Ralph Webb ran for 126 yards and a touchdown, showing both elusiveness and strength as he fought for extra yards and broke a number of tackles.
Webb wasn’t alone in a strong rushing performance, however, as speed man Tony James (junior) also topped the century mark, tallying 109 yards and a late touchdown.
Gainesville head coach James Thompson says that the strength of his team is playing good fundamental football every friday night.
Both sides of the ball for the Canes impressed, as the defense pitched the shutout. The front seven in particular were absolutely devastating the offensive line of the Rams, giving Jackson no time to throw. Coach Thompson says it was a good effort from the whole squad
Even up 20-0 at halftime, Thompson said headed into the locker room there were a lot of improvements to make. Even after the big win, coach still said there were some things that needed to change.
On the Rams side of the ball, coach Jeff Parker said that Sir Jackson was playing through injury during the game. Jackson looked better as the game went on, putting more passes on target in the second half.
The Gainesville Purple Hurricanes head to Citrus next Friday (10/5) for their second district game. After that, they’ll take on the Buchholz Bobcats. If the Canes beat Buchholz, they will be city champions.
For the Rams, they’ll welcome Bellview on Thursday for a district match up, and the Rams are still tied for 1st place in 5A District 5.