On Friday night against Class 2S No. 11 North Marion (Citra), the Hawthorne defense came ready to play.
The Class 1R second-ranked Hornets were in the Colts’ offensive backfield all night and they preserved a shutout in a 13-0 win at home.
“The last couple of weeks they’ve been playing incredible,” Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram said of his defense. “It’s just fun to watch. I can actually say this since I’m getting married on Sunday, but this is the best wedding gift that I could possibly receive. They’re a great football program.”
Both defenses set the tone early.
On Hawthorne’s first possession, North Marion’s Jabrel Samuel batted down a pass in the end zone on a 4th-and-7 at the Colts’ 18-yard line.
Later in the quarter, Colts junior Jermaine Jackson intercepted Hawthorne quarterback CJ Ingram at the 10-yard line to end another drive.
And it was defense that put the first points on the board.
With the score tied 0-0 late in the third quarter, Hawthorne’s Jailen Ruth stepped in front of a pass at the line of scrimmage on a 3rd-and-6 and intercepted North Marion quarterback AJ Cussins and returned it 31 yards down the right sideline for the score.
“We had seen it on film all week and I knew it was coming because they ran it like two times before and I just knew that I would be able to get to it,” Ruth said.
The 6’5 Washington State commit said the key to victory was the line of scrimmage.
“We played really sound,” he said. “We were talking a whole lot. We knew that their O-linemen couldn’t stop our D-linemen so we knew if we won up front, we would win the game.”
The Colts blocked the extra point, but Ruth’s touchdown would be the only points the Hornets (7-0) would need thanks to a stingy defense that played well up front, in the middle, and in the secondary.
“Jailen Ruth makes us go,” Ingram said. “Tyrique Robinson flew around all night. He’s one of those guys who has so much athletic ability and is so fast. Tonight, he didn’t think, he just reacted.
“Our secondary really covered. You’re talking about NFL-size wide receivers. Our kids were up for the challenge. They were in the right spots. They played with confidence and it was fun to watch as a head coach.”
Georgia State commit Stanley Cooks was also in the backfield all night.
“He feeds off of J-Ruth sometimes but when he makes his own plays, we’re a scary defense because you always have to worry about J-Ruth,” Ingram said. “And then once Stanley gets going our linebackers get to flowing and making plays. I think Isaiah Donaldson played well, just a great defensive effort all around and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”
The game was still in doubt when North Marion (6-3) had its biggest offensive play of the night just two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Junior running back Mitchell Brown raced around the right end and got past the secondary for a 65-yard gain before being knocked out of bounds by junior Jordin Fluellen at the Hawthorne 20-yard line.
“It was a huge play,” Ingram said. “If they would have scored, momentum would have probably shifted.”
But the Colts didn’t score and Hawthorne put the game on ice with a six-minute, 83-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Ingram on 3rd-and-goal for a 13-0 lead with 1:20 to play.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” Ingram said. “We called the guys over right before that drive and told them ‘we’re going to pound the rock.’ CJ had a couple of good reads where he pulled it and got some big yards for us and on that drive all three running backs had big carries. We felt like we could run the ball and we showed that on the most important drive.”
Hawthorne is back at home next Friday night at 7 p.m. against Class 1M Dade Christian (Miami).
Monday, Oct. 17
Lafayette (Mayo) 47, Branford 0
Friday, Oct. 21
Newberry 42, P.K. Yonge 14
Hawthorne 13, North Marion (Citra) 0
Bradford (Starke) 44, Dunnellon 0
Williston 42, Bronson 0
Bartram Trail (St. Johns) 21, Buchholz 6
Eastside 16, Belleview 14
Union County (Lake Butler) 42, Santa Fe (Alachua) 14
Columbia (Lake City) 35, Gadsden County (Havana) 22
Florida High (Tallahassee) 42, Chiefland 21
Keystone Heights 38, Taylor (Pierson) 0
Aucilla Christian (Monticello) 21, Bell 7
Branford 49, Cedar Creek Christian (Jacksonville) 28
Cambridge Christian (Tampa) 41, Dixie County (Cross City) 6
Fort White 32, Ridgeview (Orange Park) 15
St. Augustine 58, Gainesville 0
Lafayette (Mayo) 42, Trenton 0
St. Francis Catholic Academy at Oak Hall School, canceled
OFF – Suwannee (Live Oak)