The visiting Vanguard Knights defeated the Gainesville Hurricanes 33-15 on a clear Thursday night at Citizens’ Field, as both schools opened their respective regular seasons.
After an early fumble recovery by Gainesville’s Jimmahray White, Rod Williams scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run. Despite the early 7-0 hole, the Knights responded by scoring 27 unanswered points before halftime. Dewayne McBride bounced back nicely after the early fumble by carrying the majority of the ground load for Vanguard, running for over 100 yards and scoring twice, including the go-ahead touchdown in the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Knights’ new starting quarterback, Sophomore Steve Curry, throw a couple of long touchdown passes to his talented receivers. They went up 21-7 on a 28-yard catch by highly-touted 2021 prospect Trevonte Rucker, who made a nice play on the ball in the end zone. This was followed by a 36-yard score on a fly route by Gator commit Leonard Manuel to give Vanguard a three-score lead. After the game, Curry said that being surrounded by elite wide receiver talent helped him feel confident despite it being his first varsity start.
Missed Opportunities and Miscues Sink Gainesville
The Hurricanes caught a small break one minute into the second half, as a high snap over punter Logan Swift’s head resulted in a safety. Gainesville further capitalized with a methodical eight-minute touchdown drive led by running backs KZ Hutchinson and Nay’Ron Jenkins that narrowed the score to 27-15.
Later in the third quarter, momentum seemed to be firmly in Gainesville’s hands after a bold fake punt conversion deep in their own territory. However, the drive stalled out with a costly holding penalty that was followed by Hanson’s second interception of the night – a SportsCenter Top 10 worthy one-handed snag by cornerback Desmond Dailey.
After yet another snap sailed over Swift’s head early in the 4th quarter, Gainesville took over in the red zone with a chance to cut the lead to one score. A few tough runs took the Hurricanes down to Vanguard’s one-yard line, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty ultimately resulted in yet another missed opportunity for Gainesville. Vanguard sealed the contest with a 77-yard drive capped by Dewayne McBride’s second touchdown run.
Vanguard Head Coach Edwin Farmer said that he expects Division 1 interest in his star running back to increase throughout his senior season.
In reference to a lack of discipline and physicality that plagued his team in the loss, Gainesville Head Coach Patrick Miller said, “We’ve gotta see who wants to play. This is big boy ball. You’re gonna play big boy ball or you’re gonna get your head knocked off.” Miller foresees a challenging week of practice and film study ahead of next Friday’s matchup at Baker County. As for Vanguard, the Knights will take on Buchholz, hoping to extend a regular-season winning streak that dates back to 2016.