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Mainland Holds On to Defeat Gainesville 24–21 in First Round of the Playoffs

The Class 6A Hurricanes (2–4) season came to an end Friday night, falling to the Class 6A Mainland Buccaneers (Daytona, FL) (7–1) 24–21 in the first round of the FHSAA playoffs. 

A back-and-forth first half 

The Buccaneers defense forced a three-and-out from the Hurricanes offense on their opening drive, allowing the Buccaneers to immediately drive down the field. Buccaneer quarterback Theodore Lockley finished off the drive, finding wide receiver Nick Antoine for an eight-yard touchdown. The first quarter whistle blew and the Buccaneers held a 7–0 lead, but a strong Hurricanes drive set them up on the Buccaneers five-yard line to start the second quarter. 

On the first play of the quarter, Hurricane quarterback Shamon Coleman found wide receiver Nay’Ron Jenkins for a five-yard touchdown, tying the score at seven apiece. After the Hurricane defense was able to force a punt, Coleman slung the ball to an open wide receiver Brent King for a touchdown. The Hurricanes took a 14–7 lead with 10:08 remaining in the second quarter. 

However, the Buccaneers responded, with Lockley finding wide receiver James Randle for a 20-yard touchdown pass, knotting the game at 14 apiece. The Hurricanes had a chance to take the lead going into halftime, but kicker Andrew Tisher missed a 33-yard field goal wide left, leaving the score tied at 14 apiece going into halftime. 

A wild third quarter 

Both defenses were dominant, managing to get stops throughout the first half of the third quarter. The Buccaneer defense came through first when Coleman fumbled the ball, allowing Buccaneer lineman Kendrick Ruth to recover the ball and run in for a touchdown. The Buccaneers took a 21–14 lead with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter. With 38 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Buccaneers were able to convert a 33-yard field goal to extend their lead to 24–14. But the Hurricanes responded when Ryan Nolan returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to cut the Hurricane deficit to 24–21. 

An intense finish

Throughout the fourth quarter, both defenses maintained their ground, forcing punts and causing turnovers on downs. With 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter, Coleman through his third interception of the game, giving the ball back to the Buccaneers to possibly ice the game. But the Hurricanes didn’t go away, getting an interception for themselves with 1:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes had one last chance to keep their season alive. 

On fourth down, Coleman scrambled to the right and threw an incomplete pass, sealing the win for the Buccaneers and sending them to the second round of the playoffs with a final score of 24–21. 

“We faced two quarantines,” head coach Dock Pollard said. “We didn’t have a spring or summer and only had six weeks to get the team into playing shape. All you can do is be proud of these guys because they trusted the process and never quit. Is it tough we’re not going on next week? It is, but I’m definitely proud of what they accomplished through six weeks.”

The Hurricanes were forced into two quarantines throughout their shortened season and were only able to play five regular-season games. But with more future preparation, Coach Pollard remains optimistic about next season.

“If we could do what we did in six weeks, I can imagine what we could do with a spring,” Pollard said. “If we can get full preparation, I think this team could be dynamite.”

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