It was raining again on Friday night at Citizens Field.
Except this time the stuff that was constantly on the ground was the excessive flags that were being thrown all over the field.
According to Cliff Smelley of the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, the two teams combined for 29 penalties for 287 yards.
They contributed in Eastside’s 28-0 home loss to Bradford (Starke).
However, the visiting Tornadoes made all the big plays and turned in a solid performance on the road both offensively and defensively.
“They beat our butts,” said Eastside first-year head coach Harold “Gator” Hoskins. “They were more physical than us and they ran the ball. They put their foot on our neck, and hey, they just beat our butts this game.”
Bradford (3-0) began its first drive at its own 42-yard line and marched 58 yards for a score, capping the drive with a 17-yard scoring run by sophomore quarterback Jeremiah McKenzie.
McKenzie, the team’s back-up quarterback, filled in for junior Dae’jon Shanks who was battling turf toe.
“We thought that we had a good game plan coming in tonight that Jeremiah would be able to execute and he did a great job,” said Bradford first-year coach Jamie Rodgers.
Later in the opening quarter, McKenzie used his arm to add to the lead, tossing a 15-yard scoring pass to junior Chalil Cummings.
Cummings, who is being recruited by Florida State, Miami, and Nebraska, along with a dozen other D-I programs, also made a huge play defensively in what could have been considered the play of the game.
Late in the first half and trailing 14-0, Eastside (2-1) faced a 4th-and-goal at the Bradford 3-yard line.
A touchdown could have cut the deficit in half, plus the Rams were to get the ball to start the second half.
However, Eastside quarterback Holden Johnson’s pass in the right corner of the end zone to Antoneo Wilson was broken up by Cummings with just 20 seconds to play in the half.
“He’s a highly recruited guy for a reason,” Rodgers said. “When he’s right, when his head is right and he’s doing everything he is supposed to, he’s an unbelievable player. He’s got great ball skills. That’s the kind of stuff that he does.”
The incomplete pass also helped the Tornadoes pitch their third straight shutout. It was the closest the Rams would come all night to scoring.
“Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, that’s where they win,” Rodgers said. They prepare well. They come in on Monday wanting to know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to line up, what we’re going to do to stop them, everything that it takes to be a great defense these guys do it. I’m just proud of them.”
Bradford added a pair of touchdown runs by University of Cincinnati commit Manny Covey, including a 20-yard scoring run with 11:08 to play in the game for a 28-0 lead to help put the game away.
The Tornadoes will host Munroe (Quincy) next Friday, while Eastside will get a week off.
“I haven’t had that before in my career (defensive scoreless streak) and I’ve been doing this a long time,” Rodgers said. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re not going to speak about it. We want to go out and play hard, line up properly, don’t give them anything free, play hard, and see what happens. That’s our philosophy.”
Meanwhile, the Rams will begin preparation for a key Class 2S-District 7 game at North Marion on Sept. 30. North Marion defeated Santa Fe (Alachua), 40-6, in its district opener on Friday night.
“It will give us a chance to reset and fix some things, correct some things, and just get better,” Hoskins said.
Thursday, Sept. 15
Clay (Green Cove Springs) 28, Gainesville 10
Friday, Sept. 16
Bell 35, Taylor (Pierson) 3
Bradford (Starke) 28, Eastside 0
Buchholz 48, Creekside (St. Johns) 41
Chiefland 35, Dixie County (Cross City) 0
Columbia (Lake City) 21, Madison County 0
Florida A&M (Tallahassee) 30, Bronson 9
Fort White 45, Hamilton County (Jasper) 6
Hawthorne 14, Orlando Christian Prep 11 (OT)
Keystone Heights 38, Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) 12
North Marion (Citra) 40, Santa Fe (Alachua) 6
St. Francis Catholic Academy 12, First Academy (Leesburg) 2
Union County (Lake Butler) 55, P.K. Yonge 7
Wewahitchka 22, Trenton 14
Williston 56, Branford 0
OFF – Oak Hall School, Newberry