North Marion strikes early and often in win at Eastside

The North Marion (Citra) football team seized the momentum early in its Class 5A-District 4 game against Eastside at Citizen’s Field.

The Colts (3-2, 1-0) scored 30 unanswered points in the first half and handed the Rams their 5th straight loss to the begin the season with a 43-13 victory on Thursday night.

North Marion’s Collin Hooks returned the opening kickoff 44 yards to the 50-yard line.

A few plays later, quarterback AJ Cussins hit Chris Foster in the left flat for a screen pass and Foster took it down the left sidelines for a 34-yard scoring play to give the visiting Colts a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

Following a fumbled punt by Eastside’s Darius Moore, which was recovered by Andrew Zock, the Colts struck again.

Justin Stopford kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 1:13 to play in the opening quarter.

Cussins, who accounted for four touchdowns in the opening half, threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Rollerson with 10:50 to play until halftime for a 17-0 lead.

Following a short Eastside punt, the Colts began their next possession at their 49-yard line.

On 1st-and-10 at the Rams’ 39-yard line, Cussins and Foster hooked up for the second time, a 39-yard scoring pass for a 24-0 lead with 7:37 to play in the second quarter.

Then, on the ensuing kick, the Rams failed to field the ball and North Marion recovered inside the 10-yard line.

That led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Cussins for a commanding 30-0 lead with 7:19 to play in the half.

The Rams (0-5, 0-2) did have some success in the second half.

Eastside junior Micah Hudson recovered a fumble at the North Marion 4-yard line.

On the next play, Rams’ running back Chris Bishop ran it in from four yards out to put Eastside on the scoreboard for the first time. The 2-point pass play failed and Eastside trailed 30-6 with 7:02 to play in the third quarter.

However, the Colts answered the next time they touched the ball.

Elija Walton returned the kickoff 89 yards for a score and a 37-6 lead with 6:25 to play in the third quarter.

The Rams moved the ball to the Colts’ 10-yard line, but a holding call backed them up. Then Tommy Harward intercepted a Holden Johnson pass at the 10-yard line and returned it 52 yards to the Rams’ 38-yard line.

That set up a 5-yard run by Kimare Lane to ensure a running clock and a 43-6 lead with just under nine minutes to play.

On the Rams’ next possession, Bishop scored his second touchdown of the night, a 70-yard run down the right sidelines to end the scoring with just under six minutes to play.

Eastside will travel to Clay (Green Cove Springs) next Friday, Oct. 8, for a district contest, while North Marion will travel to Dunnellon for a non-district game.  

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