Leon Bests Gainesville High, 21-0

Gainesville High School welcomed Tallahassee Leon High to Citizens Field on Sept. 1 looking for its first win of the season, but the Lions’ defense smothered the Hurricanes’ every move for a 21-0 win.

Hurricanes struggle with mistakes

Gainesville quickly picked up a first down on the ground on its first drive. Three plays later, however, Gainesville committed the first of seven turnovers by fumbling in the backfield. From here, Leon was off and running.

After two three-and-outs, Leon’s second possession of the game began on the Gainesville 36, where senior running back De’rodrick Hepburn took a fourth-down handoff 30 yards to open the scoring at 6-0 after the missed extra-point attempt. Leon’s dominance would build.

The next two Gainesville (0-2) drives came to abrupt ends, with the Hurricanes fumbling and throwing an interception. Leon took advantage of the second turnover, with Hepburn finding the end zone a second time from five yards out for a 12-0 Leon lead.

With 31 seconds left in the half, Gainesville looked to gain some momentum heading into the locker room. Leon, though, had other plans, sacking Gainesville quarterback Andreas White for a loss of 13 yards as time expired.

Hurricanes shut out

With a new energy coming out of the half, Gainesville’s Karell Pope intercepted Leon quarterback Kemp Peoples, taking the ball back to the Leon 25. After a Leon pass interference call, Gainesville held the ball inside the Leon 10, looking for an opportunity to cut its deficit to one score early in the third quarter. But it was not to be, as White, facing pressure, was intercepted in the end zone by Leon’s Knyon Simmons.

After three drives resulted in punts and a fumble by each team, Gainesville had the ball on the Leon 39. After a run and a pass attempt that netted no gain, Gainesville faced a critical third down. Leon (2-0) was prepared. After a high snap, Leon’s Isaiah Jones quickly pounced on the ball and returned it to the Gainesville 2-yard line. Peoples then scored to improve the Lions’ lead to 21-0.

With only a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Leon’s defense remained strong, intercepting Gainesville twice to end any threat.

Coaches comments

Leon coach Tyrone McGriff emphasized to his team that they “should enjoy this moment” but must remain focused on what they need to do throughout the rest of the season.

“We need to stay focused,” Peoples said. “We have bigger goals in the playoffs. We need to keep working.”

Peoples gave credit to his teammates, applauding the running backs and defense.

“Those guys are great,” Peoples said. “They make it so easy.”

Gainesville defensive coordinator Randy Scott emphasized the need to hold on to the ball.

“The defense played really hard,” Scott said. “We turned the ball over seven times. You can’t win games when you turn over the ball like that.”

Up next

Gainesville (0-3) looks to get its first win of the season at Clay (2-1) on Friday.


About Noah White

I'm a freshman at the University of Florida, majoring in journalism and public relations. I enjoy playing soccer and volleyball with friends, watching movies with my girlfriend and, of course, writing. I also know more about Liberty League women's soccer than you do.

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