The Buchholz Bobcats’ first-year head coach Chuck Bell had a spectacular debut in a game that spanned over two days.
The Bobcats ran more plays in Columbia (Lake City) Tigers’ territory than their own en route to a 41-13 victory at Citizens Field on Saturday.
“I’m pretty emotional right now,” said Bell, who took over from Mark Whittemore in December, after the game. “Not a whole lot of things have felt like this in my life.”
The game, which was postponed and changed venues from Lake City to Citizens Field in Gainesville, resumed at the start of the second quarter. The contest – which started Friday in Lake City – was not only stopped due to a lightning delay but so was an off-field distraction on the home side of the stadium.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy observed two males jumping a fence near the south side of the Columbia stadium. Deputies immediately contacted the individuals behind the home stands.
During that interaction, one of the individuals became combative. Both subjects were detained where it was discovered they were each armed with a handgun and then arrested.
“The superintendent from Alachua Schools made the decision that they didn’t want the game played here,” Columbia coach Brian Allen told the Lake City Reporter. “We definitely wanted to make sure their coaches knew about the incident that occurred. Obviously, they wanted to play as a staff and their AD did as well, but the call was over their head. They made the decision to not go tonight. For all the implications this game has later in the year with the rankings and how things go there, we have to play it. We’re not going to not play it, so that decision has been made and we’ll head over there (Saturday).”
Buchholz was leading 14-0 at the end of the first quarter when the game was delayed on Friday.
Buchholz senior running back Quinton Cutler, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, opened the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run with 5:30 to play in the first quarter. Senior Jonathan Edwards’ extra point capped a 56-yard drive for a 7-0 lead.
Then on the final play of the quarter, Buchholz sophomore quarterback Trace Johnson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to sophomore D.J. Hicks.
After giving up a 35-yard pass play on the first play from scrimmage, the Buchholz defense settled down.
“I think early on we were a little bit iffy on defense, had a couple of busts there,” Bell said.
On Saturday, following a Columbia punt, Johnson led a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive. UF commit Myles Graham ended the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Bobcats up 21-0.
The Tigers, however, quickly responded. Sophomore running back T.C. Smith found a hole in the middle of the Buchholz defense and ran 71 yards for a touchdown, making the score 21-6 after the PAT was blocked.
Buchholz proceeded to score 20 unanswered points on three straight Johnson touchdown passes. Cutler, senior Jordan Richardson and sophomore Justin Williams were the recipients of the touchdown strikes.
Richardson made a one-handed catch at midfield and, with lots of green grass in front of him, made his way to the end zone.
Johnson connected with Williams in the corner of the end zone and Cutler was wide open on an untouched 14-yard score.
“[Johnson] is the ultimate competitor,” Bell said. “He’s fantastic and looked great tonight.”
Tigers’ junior quarterback Zach Paulk connected with junior wide receiver Bynton Edge on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for Columbia.
Despite an intense preseason quarterback competition between Johnson and senior Austin Cardozo, Johnson received most of the snaps against Columbia. Bell, however, explained that Cardozo will always be an option for the Bobcats going forward.
“We know that Cardozo can come in,” Bell stated. “He did just fine driving the offense down the field against Wekiva.”
Meanwhile, the Buchholz defense held the Tigers’ offense in check despite a couple of busted coverages. Senior defensive end and UF commit Kendall Jackson was consistently present in the Columbia backfield.
“Unfortunately, a couple of big plays did us in,” Bell said. “Other than that, it’s pretty obvious we’re going to be a formidable defensive squad.”
Buchholz goes to Sarasota on Friday to play Riverview (1-0), while Columbia hosts Union County (1-0).
- with contributions from Mike Ridaught.
Thursday, Aug. 24
Trenton 28, Bell 0
Friday, Aug. 25
Eastside 28, Inlet Grove (Riviera Beach) 9
Newberry 68, Santa Fe (Alachua) 10
Braden River (Bradenton) 34, GHS 20
P.K. Yonge 46, Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) 12
Union County (Lake Butler) 43, Interlachen 0
Hawthorne 26, Middleburg 7
Oak Hall 43, St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 0
Bradford (Starke) 12, Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 0
Anclote (Holiday) 44, Bronson 6
Branford 53, Cedar Creek Christian (Jacksonville) 0
Williston 44, Chiefland 7
Suwannee (Live Oak) 33, Flagler Palm Coast 13
Lafayette (Mayo) 7, Dixie County (Cross City) 6
OFF- Keystone Heights
Saturday, Aug. 26
Buchholz 41, Columbia (Lake City) 13
Fort White 19, Taylor County 13