A bitter rivalry was renewed once again at Citizens Field on Friday night, and it had a little bit of everything to it, plus a little more. The Class 7A Buchholz Bobcats (4-2, 2-0) defeated the Class 6A Gainesville Hurricanes (0-6, 0-1) by a final score of 18-13 in a tough, defensive battle.
Hurricanes strike first
Once again, Gainesville decided to start senior Rod Williams at quarterback; last week, the offense had moments where it was able to put together a few productive drives against a stout Columbia High defense. This was a similar case again against the Bobcats.
After failing to get anything going on their first couple of drives, the Hurricanes finally saw the end zone when Williams connected to junior receiver Alex Brown for a touchdown with 2:26 left in the first quarter; the touchdown came after Gainesville’s defense intercepted a pass thrown by Buchholz quarterback Jack Hevesy on the drive prior.
The scoring didn’t last, however. Williams and company struggled to sustain positive offensive drives the rest of the first half.
Buchholz finds a spark
After struggling to put together any kind of offensive production, the Bobcats needed just one drive to get the momentum back on their side in the second half. This came with roughly 3:45 left in the third quarter. The Hurricanes were called for back-to-back unsportsmanlike penalties, and a pass interference, which set the Bobcats up with good field position.
Junior running back Quandarius Smith was able to finish the drive with a touchdown, and Buchholz found itself back in the game with 1:31 left in the third quarter. This, however, didn’t come without some controversy. Smith was running towards the end zone and dove out to reach across the goal line. But in the process of doing this, it looked as if he fumbled the ball before going across the line.
The referees stayed with the call on the field, and it left Gainesville’s coaches and fans in an uproar, as the score proved to be a turning point for the Bobcats.
In addition to the offense getting a boost, the defense also stepped up in the second half. The Bobcats forced two interceptions, including one early in the second half, and another late in the third quarter that helped give Buchholz its first lead of the game.
This won’t be an easy loss for the ‘Canes to swallow, especially because they had the game in their hands throughout most of the night, but they failed to capitalize on a few drives offensively.
Next week, Gainesville gets back to district play as they hit the road to take on Middleburg (2-4, 0-0). For the Bobcats, they will also be taking on a district opponent in the Fletcher Senators (3-3, 1-0) at Citizens Field. This will be one of three district opponents that await them in the coming weeks.
Buchholz coach Mark Whittemore understands coming off a big win like the one on Friday night can be huge going forward.
“There is no doubt it gives us momentum,” he said.