For the first time since 2008, the Eastside Rams were victorious against cross-town rival Gainesville.
The Rams, winners of their last three games, defeated the Hurricanes 36-0 behind four takeaways on defense and special teams and three rushing touchdowns from running back Micah Hudson.
“I joked around with Holden (Johnson),” said Eastside coach Harold ‘Gator’ Hoskins. “I let him know that I was the last quarterback to beat GHS. This one’s for the seniors. I’m excited for those guys. I’m really really proud of those guys, the work the put in. They deserve everything they got.”
“It feels good to change history. We had a good reason to do it,” Hudson added.
The Rams opened up the scoring with 4:56 left in the first quarter when Johnson hit receiver Daniel Fudge in one-on-one coverage for a 15-yard touchdown.
Johnson, a four-year starter for the Rams, earned his first-career win against Gainesville.
“Like I said, this one is for the seniors, especially a guy like him who’s been here all four years and knows where the program was,” Hoskins said.
On Gainesville’s ensuing drive, a botched handoff led to a fumble recovery by Jessie Barnes, the first of four takeaways for the defense. The Rams would miss a field goal on their next drive.
Eastside’s Jayden Manns starred on the next defensive drive with back-to-back sacks on second and third down and a blocked punt to give the Rams the ball at the Gainesville 20-yard line.
Hudson would finish the drive with a 3-yard score with 5:03 left in the half to put the Rams up 14-0.
“He played his butt off,” Hoskins said. “I’m so proud of him. All the work that he put in over the summer, continued to believe in himself. He means a lot to this team.”
The defensive dominance would continue after DJ Anderson jumped in front of a Gainesville receiver for an interception. Once again, Hudson would finish the drive with a touchdown rush, this time an 8-yard score with 3:45 left in the half. The Rams would take a 20-0 lead into half after the missed PAT.
After a scoreless third quarter, marred by turnovers and punts by both teams, Hudson would seal the game with his third touchdown of the night plus a 2-point conversion with 11:15 left in the game.
Hudson was named the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game for his performance.
“I set a goal for myself tonight, and I got it done and more,” Hudson said.
That specific goal?
“Beat GHS,” Hudson said.
Gainesville’s next drive ended in disaster as John Cooper took the snap from the wildcat, and a botched snap led to him falling in the endzone, giving the Rams two more points on a safety with 10:23 left.
Johnson would be taken out of the game for Eastside, and receiver Antonio Hubbert stepped in at quarterback, but the offensive success wouldn’t change. Hubbert would launch the ball 32-yards for a touchdown to Tajoin Waldon with 8:15 to put the score at 36-0 and at a running clock.
With the win, the Rams, who earned the 2S-District 7 championship last week, finish the regular season 7-2 and move to the postseason. Meanwhile, Gainesville finishes the 2022 season 0-10 and enters a coaching search after Dock Pollard resigned last week
Friday, Nov. 4, results
Eastside 36, Gainesville 0
Bolles (Jacksonville) 49, Buchholz 28
Hawthorne 52, Astronaut (Titusville) 0
South Sumter (Bushnell) 61, Newberry 21
P.K. Yonge 35, Keystone Heights 22
Union County (Lake Butler) 31, Walton (DeFuniak Springs) 15
Branford 36, Hamilton County (Jasper) 0
Fort White 55, Santa Fe (Alachua) 21
Williston 57, Chiefland 28
Suwannee (Live Oak) 10, Bradford (Starke) 7
Bell 35, St. Francis Catholic Academy 0
Chipley 35, Dixie County (Cross City) 0
Belleview 42, Trenton 6
Umatilla 41, Bronson 12
OFF – Oak Hall School (season over), Columbia (3S-District 3 champions)