Eastside blanks Gainesville in regular season finale

Eastside's Joshua Benjamin with a run against Gainesville on Friday.
Eastside's Joshua Benjamin with a run against Gainesville on Friday.
Photo by Seth Johnson

After 14 straight losses to crosstown rival Gainesville from 2008-2021, the Eastside Rams are starting their own winning streak against the Hurricanes.

With a 42-0 win on Friday, the Rams have now won back-to-back matchups in the rivalry for the first time since 2006-2007. Additionally, six of Eastside’s seven wins have been shutouts this year.

“That was the goal tonight, to get a shutout,” said Eastside head coach Harold ‘Gator’ Hoskins. “We challenged the defense, and they performed.”

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

Eastside's Demarco Daniels intercepted Gainesville's first throw of the game on Friday.
Photo by Seth Johnson Eastside’s Demarco Daniels intercepted Gainesville’s first throw of the game on Friday.

It didn’t start out smooth for the Rams, though. Quarterback Adrian Curtis’ first pass of the game was intercepted by Gainesville’s Kane Smith, but the Hurricanes immediately turned it over with an interception by Eastside’s Demarco Daniels.

From there, the Rams took over. Running back Joshua Benjamin accounted for 50 yards on five carries, which included a 16-yard touchdown run with 6:04 left in the first quarter. Benjamin finished the game with over 120 yards rushing, earning himself the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game.

“It feels good as a team, we put in the work,” Benjamin said. “I feel like we should have come out there a little better than what we did, and we always start off slow, but the end was good.”

Curtis added a three-yard score and a touchdown pass to Antonio Hubbert to give the Rams a 21-0 lead at halftime. Hubbert added a 56-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter, and Curtis threw for two more scores to seal a running clock in the second half.

“That puts (Curtis) at 20 touchdowns passing, something he set as a goal,” Hoskins said. “I think he’s a tremendous athlete, and I’m proud of the kid.”

Gainesville (1-9) now turns their attention to the offseason with hopes of an improved 2024 season.

“What I’m hopeful for is that we can wipe the slate clean, get through the holidays and give the guys a vision for what’s coming for them to be excited about because that’s what it’s about,” said Gainesville first-year coach Ian Scott. “People want to win games, and things aren’t going to change until we start winning.”

With their Class 2S-District 7 title, Eastside (7-3) heads back to the postseason for the second straight year. The FHSAA playoff brackets will be released on Sunday.

“We want a ring, man,” Benjamin said. “We put in a lot of work, so we’re trying to get a ring.”

Eastside's Corvin Byrd runs into Gainesville's defensive line on Friday.
Photo by Seth Johnson Eastside’s Corvin Byrd runs into Gainesville’s defensive line on Friday.

Thursday, Nov. 2
Keystone Heights 27, P.K. Yonge 22

Friday, Nov. 3
Buchholz 42, Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 20
Vero Beach 31, Columbia (Lake City) 10
Fort White 77, Santa Fe (Alachua) 13
Keswick Christian (St. Petersburg) 35, St. Francis Catholic Academy 12
Union County (Lake Butler) 42, Ambassadors Christian Academy (Winter Haven) 0
Branford 25, Hamilton County (Jasper) 6
Frostproof 23, Chiefland 12
Williston 65, Citrus (Inverness) 7Eastside 42, GHS 0
Newberry 45, Belleview 0
Dixie County (Cross City) 12, North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) 0
Bradford (Starke) 35, Suwannee (Live Oak) 3
Trenton 49, Tenoroc (Lakeland) 22

SSAA State Tournament
No. 9 Space Coast (Cocoa) 21, No. 10 Bell 14 – Atlantic 1A championship

Gainesville defenders combine to tackle Eastside's Joshua Benjamin on Friday.
Photo by Seth Johnson Gainesville defenders combine to tackle Eastside’s Joshua Benjamin on Friday.

Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Sports Newsletter Form
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments