Buchholz won the District 3-4S title Thursday when quarterback Trace Johnson threw for three touchdowns and two-way star Myles Graham added three rushing scores to lead the Bobcats to a 44-7 over the Bartram Trail Bears.
Buchholz (8-0) was in rhythm offensively on senior night at Citizens Field and its run-pass balance gave Bartram Trail (4-4) a lot of trouble.
The Bears continued to fight, and even outscored the Bobcats 7-0 in the third quarter, but it was not enough to take down their rivals.
Buchholz Comes Out with a Bang
On the first play from scrimmage, Buchholz running back Quinton Cutler lined up at receiver and found space on a seam route down the middle of the field. Johnson hit him in stride with a perfect pass and Cutler took the Bobcats straight into the end zone for an 85-yard score to make it 7-0 Bobcats.
“Me and Quinton go hand and hand,” Johnson said. “He’s a dog, and he makes our team. We’re really a two-headed monster.”
After forcing a Bartram Trail punt, the Bobcats got back to work from their own 43-yard line, and they moved it down the field with relative ease. The drive culminated in a Myles Graham rushing score, who lined up in a wildcat formation behind the center in place of Johnson. He took the snap and dove over the goal line from 6 yards out.
Buchholz ended the first quarter by getting the ball back up 14-0.
In the first drive of the second quarter, Graham had a 45-yard rushing score taken away because of a Buchholz penalty, but the Bobcats stayed tough and finished the drive. They worked the ball into the red zone, and a quick toss to receiver Jordan Richardson resulted in a 15-yard score.
With the score 21-0 early in the second quarter, the Bobcats still had time to add to the lead before halftime. A bruising short rushing score by Graham and a 47-yard field goal by kicker Jay Giunta put Buchholz up by 31 points at the half.
Bartram Trail Fights Back
In the third quarter, the game got a bit messier for both teams. Drives were extended by penalties and multiple scuffles broke out on the field.
Both Bartram Trail and Buchholz turned the ball over on downs early in the third quarter.
Bartram Trail got the ball back, and on third down deep in its territory, Graham lowered the boom on Bears quarterback Riley Trujillo, causing a fight to break out and drawing a penalty. Although Trujillo threw the ball away before Graham finished the hit, it appeared the penalty was called to protect the quarterback, because Graham drove Trujillo into the ground hard at the end of the play.
It gave Bartram Trail a first down and a real chance to make something happen. And this time, the Bears took advantage, moving down the field and finishing the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trujillo to wide receiver De’andre Caldwell.
The third quarter ended with that 31-7 scoreline.
Buchholz Finishes the Job
Coach Chuck Bell and the Bobcats were not happy with the way the third quarter went, and in the fourth, they came back with a vengeance.
After a face mask penalty on Cutler gave them a first down, that familiar run-pass balance had the Bobcats knocking on the door again. This time, a 26-yard strike from Johnson to Justin Williams made the score 38-7 Bobcats.
A great kick return gave Bartram Trail a chance to score inside the red zone, but Trujillo was intercepted by Amari Sheppard and returned it all the way to the Bears’ 2-yard line.
A hat trick for Graham made it 44-7 Bobcats. He scored on the last play of the game, so no extra point was taken and 44-7 became the game’s final score.
— Zach Lightsey (@Zach_Lightsey) October 20, 2023
Buchholz, which plays at Orange Park Fleming Island (2-6) on Friday. earned the right to host a playoff game next month.
“Everyone was a part of this win, whether they knew it or not,” Bell said.