Gainesville claims district title at St. Augustine

When starting running back Kyree Edwards got injured early in the fourth quarter, the Gainesville Hurricanes trailed 14-7. But junior running back John Cooper stepped up for his injured teammate and scored a game-tying touchdown to help Gainesville secure the 6A District 4 title over the St. Augustine Yellow Jackets, 17-14.

“It feels great, man,” Cooper said. “It’s been a long time since we got [a district championship].”

The first half went by in a flash. In the second quarter, Gainesville quarterback Shooby Coleman connected with wide receiver Brent King for a 40-yard catch.

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Then, Coleman scrambled for 13 yards to set up 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Edwards took it in from a yard out and the Hurricanes led 7-0 at the end of half.

Special teams shifted the momentum for St. Augustine in the third quarter. Senior Tyshawn Campbell blocked a punt to set up the Yellow Jackets in Gainesville territory.

St. Augustine knotted the game at 7-7 with some trickery. Senior quarterback Trevon Dirden swung a screen pass out right to Campbell, who lobbed it back to the left for Dirden for a 28-yard score.

On their next possession, St. Augustine strung together an 81-yard drive to take a 14-7 lead. Sophomore running back Devonte Lyons capped it with a 33-yard rushing score.

After the Edwards injury, Gainesville faced an important 4th-and-3 situation. Cooper burst free for the first down on a 26-yard carry.

A few plays later, Cooper found paydirt for a 12-yard score and the game was tied 14-14 late in the fourth quarter.

Gainesville’s defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing St. Augustine possession as the Hurricanes’ junior linebacker Ahman Covington forced a punt with his second sack of the game.

“Come in mentally sharp, first thing,” Covington said. “Play physical and have fun.”

With 20 second left to play, Gainesville sophomore kicker Cooper Badics lined up for a chance at a go-ahead 29-yard field goal. He drilled it through the uprights to give the Hurricanes a 17-14 edge.

St. Augustine had one final Hail Mary-chance at victory, but it was knocked down. Gainesville improved to 7-2 and earned a district championship with the win.

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