Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore knew exactly what to say following the Bobcats’ 54-33 win over Crestview at Citizens Field on Friday night in the 4S Region 1 Semifinal.
“Big games are where you make big plays,” he said. “People remember what you do in the playoffs.”
Whittemore, a four-star Mississippi State commit, threw for three touchdowns, added two more on the ground and intercepted three passes defensively.
Additionally, running back Quinton Cutler scored a season-high four touchdowns.
Cutler, who rushed for a career-high 200 yards, opened with a 32-yard touchdown run on the Bobcats’ second possession. A missed PAT would make the score 6-0 with 8:27 left in the first quarter.
“He’s so electric,” Creed said of Cutler. “The ability for him to get the ball and go score is something that not a lot of people have. I’m proud of him. He’s a junior. I’m excited for what he’s going to do next year.”
The Bulldogs would answer when running back Jason Jones capped an 11-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the quarter. The PAT put Crestview ahead, 7-6.
Following the trend of Buchholz’s last few games, it wouldn’t take long for the Bobcats to answer as Whittemore scored on a 1-yard run with 9 seconds left in the quarter. Jay Giunta’s PAT gave the Bobcats a 13-7 lead.
The Bulldogs went ahead on the next drive when quarterback Jerome Brazan hit Tristin Wells for a 12-yard touchdown. The PAT put Crestview ahead 14-13 lead with 6:14 left in the half.
From there, the tide shifted in the Bobcats’ favor.
On the next play from scrimmage, Cutler went 65-yards for his second score of the game, giving the Bobcats a lead they would never relinquish.
“That’s the way he practices,” Buchholz head coach Mark Whittemore said. “It carries over when he practices. That’s the speed he practices at. A lot of kids don’t do that. And so, when he gets out here, it’s like a shot out of a gun, man. Unbelievable.”
On the Bulldogs’ next drive, Whittemore would intercept the first of his three passes.
On offense, Whittemore found Delaware commit Jacarree Kelly in the back corner of the end zone for a score. A missed two-point try made the score 26-14 with 1:13 to go in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Matthew Kade forced a Crestview fumble, which Ian Hubbert recovered at the Buchholz 5-yard line. Whittemore punched it in on the very next play for a 33-14 halftime lead.
Whittemore intercepted his second pass of the game on Crestview’s opening drive of the second half, giving the Bobcats the ball on the Bulldog 27-yard line. Cutler would burst up the field on 4th-and-1 for a 21-yard score.
Crestview would end its scoring drought with a 4-yard bulldozer touchdown by Jones to pull within 40-21.
With six minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs pulled off a successful onside kick but turned the ball over two plays later with a Jones fumble recovered by Donny Hiebert at the Crestview 39-yard line.
Whittemore would score on an 8-yard touchdown run giving the Bobcats a 47-20 lead with under three minutes in the third quarter.
Crestview would answer on its next drive when Brazen scored on an 8-yard run.
After forcing a Buchholz punt, Crestview would have another chance to score snatched away by Whittemore, who intercepted his third pass of the night in the back of the end zone.
Two drives later, Whittemore passed to James Williams for a 12-yard score with 2:10 left for a 54-27 lead.
Crestview backup quarterback Nathaniel Nocher came in for the final drive and capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Phillips, with a missed 2-point try putting the final score at 54-33.
The Bobcats advance to the 4S Region 1 Final, where they will travel to St. Johns for a rematch with No. 1 Bartram Trail, who defeated No. 4 Creekside, 42-15. The Bears defeated Buchholz 21-6 on Oct. 21. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 25.
Friday, Nov. 18
Class 1R-Region 3
Union County (Lake Butler) 27, No. 4 Madison County 16
Class 1R-Region 4
Hawthorne 33, Wildwood 15
Pahokee 50, Chiefland 28
Class 1S-Region 2
P.K. Yonge 35, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy (Melbourne) 3
Class 2S-Region 1
Suwannee (Live Oak) 17, West Florida 14
Class 2S-Region 2
Bradford (Starke) 37, Eastside 0
Class 3S-Region 1
Columbia (Lake City) 17, Escambia (Pensacola) 15
Class 4S-Region 1
Buchholz 54, Crestview 33