Friday night’s football game between visiting Vanguard (Ocala) and Buchholz at Citizens Field featured a showdown of unbeaten and state-ranked teams.
The visiting Knights, who were ranked fourth in Class 3S, turned a turnover into a score just a minute into the game for an early 7-0 lead, but Buchholz rallied to win 30-10 on Homecoming.
“It’s kind of been a theme that’s been repetitive, we’re getting a lot of adversity thrown at us,” said first-year Buchholz coach Chuck Bell. “I said it a couple of weeks ago, a lot of people probably look at us and say, ‘Coach, with all the talent you guys have you can just overcome anything, you guys should beat everybody.’ Football is a funny game and being able to overcome adversity is not something that every guy has…those guys in the locker room can overcome some adversity, and they did tonight.”
Buchholz, which is ranked fourth in Class 4S, turned it over on their first possession as Vanguard defensive back Johntavous Davenport intercepted Buchholz quarterback Trace Johnson and returned it to the Bobcats’ 2-yard line.
On the next play, USF commit Fred Gaskin scored on a quarterback sneak off left tackle for a 7-0 lead just 1:05 into the game.
The Bobcats, who welcomed the return of running back Quinton Cutler from injury, answered on their next possession.
Cutler helped engineer a 12-play drive that consumed almost seven minutes off the clock and culminated with a 41-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jay Giunta to make it 7-3.
“Just being there for my team and being that guy they can look up to,” said Cutler, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury but would later return. “You’ve got to fight through it.”
Vanguard (4-1) missed some opportunities in the first quarter.
Gaskin dropped an interception, and the Knights came away with no points after driving from their own 20-yard line to the Buchholz 8-yard line.
However, sophomore kicker Jaxson Lee missed a 30-yard field goal with 20 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Buchholz (5-0) took advantage of a special teams mistake when the ball was hiked over the head of the punter and the Bobcats recovered at the 12-yard line.
That led to a 12-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to sophomore D.J. Hicks for a 10-7 lead with 1:35 to play in the first half.
Vanguard received the second half kick and began their first drive at their own 21-yard line. The Knights consumed almost 5:30 off the clock and tied the game at 10-10 on a 30-yard field goal by Lee.
But on Buchholz’s next possession, Cutler had a key 27-yard run to highlight a 70-yard scoring drive, capped by Johnson’s 12-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Justin Williams for a 17-10 lead with 2:41 to play in the third quarter.
“Quinton is a guy that has really, really battled,” Bell said. “After getting dinged up a couple of weeks ago, he’s a guy that has worked his butt off to be out here…I assure you, Quinton is not full speed right now but he is pushing through and I’ve not been around many tougher, just really strong guys than Q. I’d go to battle with Q every day.”
“Q” never found the end zone, but the senior was a big factor in their scoring drives. He added a 13-yard run and hauled in a 21-yard screen pass to help cap another 70-yard drive.
University of Florida commit Myles Graham scored on a 1-yard run for a 24-10 lead with 9:33 to play.
“The O-line played great,” Cutler said. “They played together, they played physical and that’s all I can ask for.”
Graham was also quick to credit the offensive line last Friday after he rushed for over 200 yards in the district win against Creekside (St. Johns).
Not only are they opening holes for the running backs, but they also have only allowed one sack in five games.
“The line play is absolutely outstanding,” Bell said. “It’s one of the biggest O-lines that I’ve ever been around. This is an O-line that can really function at a high level, the Division-II level in my opinion. We’re 275 at least across the board. There are quite a few guys that are three bills plus.”
Giunta made field goals of 37 and 32 yards to end the scoring for the Bobcats, who are off next Friday.
Buchholz will play rival Gainesville on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast online (audio only) at Mainstreet Daily News.
Thursday, Sept. 21
GHS 49. Santa Fe (Alachua) 21
Friday, Sept. 22
Buchholz 30, Vanguard (Ocala) 10
Hawthorne 50, P.K. Yonge 2
Newberry 34, Chiefland 0
Williston 42, Fort White 7
Trenton 13, Lake Weir (Ocala) 7
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) 27, Columbia (Lake City) 13
First Academy (Leesburg) 48, St. Francis Catholic Academy 22
Orlando Christian Prep 22, Union County (Lake Butler) 21
Dixie County (Cross City) 42, Jefferson County (Monticello) 14
Suwannee (Live Oak) 32, North Marion (Citra) 6
Keystone Heights 46, Interlachen 8
Paxon (Jacksonville) 32, Branford 22
Hamilton County (Jasper) 42, Bell 0
The First Academy (Orlando) 56, Bronson 0
OFF – Bradford (Starke), Eastside, Oak Hall