The Gainesville football team entered its Homecoming game against visiting Menendez (St. Augustine) with a little momentum following last week’s win against Santa Fe (Alachua).
However, mistakes, penalties and big plays proved to be the difference as the visiting Falcons defeated the Hurricanes, 30-14, in a Class 3S-District 4 game at Citizens Field.
The first big play of the night came after the Hurricanes were forced to punt out of their own endzone.
Menendez (2-4, 1-1) started their second possession of the game at the GHS 34-yard line.
A couple of plays later, freshman quarterback Cashlin Downey hit senior Jason Watson on a 30-yard pass across the middle as Watson ran across the field and down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead with 3:41 to play in the opening quarter.
GHS (1-5, 0-2), which began its next possession at its own 32-yard line, did move the ball into Falcons’ territory.
However, Menendez’s Joseph Holliman Jr. sacked Hurricanes’ quarterback Kane Smith to end the drive.
Following a Menendez fumble, the Hurricanes were able to even the score on a 48-yard drive.
Sophomore Caleb Young ran for 26 yards down to the 22-yard line, followed by an 11-yard run on the next play. He added a 7-yard run down to the 1-yard line where Smith snuck it in on the next play to tie the game at 7-7 with 5:00 to play in the half.
The Falcons faced a 3rd-and-7 from their own 31-yard line and it appeared the Hurricanes might get the ball back with a chance to score again before the half. But in man coverage, Watson beat his defender for a 69-yard touchdown reception to give the Falcons the lead again at 14-7 with 3:20 to play in the half.
“They made some big plays on third down, which was unfortunate,” Gainesville coach Ian Scott said. “We didn’t do a great job making sure that we were doing the right things and we had a chance to make plays. They just made more plays than we did.”
Menendez won the coin toss but deferred to the second half.
The Falcons began their first drive of the third quarter at their own 25-yard line.
A few plays later, Downey threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Sams just a minute into the second half but the play was called back due to a procedure penalty.
That allowed Menendez to eat some time off of the clock, capitalizing on a key third down pass play for a first down to Sams, followed by a GHS roughing the passer penalty that carried the ball down to the Hurricanes’ 23-yard line.
Then, on 3rd-and-6 at the GHS 7-yard line, Joseph Soto ran it in for the score, capping a 75-yard drive that consumed 7:50 off of the clock.
“We can’t give up big plays,” Scott said “They had the one drive to start the third quarter which ate up most of the second half but other than that they had three big pass plays that went all the way down the field, and that’s hard. We had a couple of nice plays that got called back for holding that set us back and delayed a couple of drives. Again, those penalties we can’t have.”
Smith was injured late in the first half so they inserted senior Mason Brewer, who drove the ‘Canes 70 yards for a score on their only possession of the third quarter.
“He’s been working hard,” Scott said of Brewer. “He’s been taking reps and he was prepared to play when he came in and did a good job on that drive. There’s some plays that maybe he could have had on the next one where we didn’t get anything on that fourth down but those things happen and you’re just trying to stay in the game and trying to make a play and unfortunately they made more than we did and that was the bottom line in this game.”
Still, Brewer’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Matt Williams made it a one-score game, 21-14, with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter.
On the next possession, Downey completed a 43-yard pass to Watson down to the 1-yard line and the Falcons scored on the next play for a 28-14 lead with 9:04 to play.
“Mason came in and led us down the field and got us a touchdown but then we just kind of stalled out from there offensively,” Scott said. “That last big throw that they got there at the end kind of deflated us.”
Brewer completed a 17-yard pass to his brother Taylor, but another sack by Holliman on a 4th-and-3 near midfield helped secure the win for Menendez.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and hopefully we can get better,” Scott said.
GHS will host rival Buchholz (5-0) at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Citizens Field. The Bobcats, who were off tonight, have won four straight in the series.
“We’ve got to get ready to play and do our best,” Scott said. “They’re a really good team but that’s why you play football. You want to play against the best and see what you’ve got. So, we’ll find out about us, how much we love it, and we’ll do our best and be ready to go on Thursday.”
Thursday, Sept. 28
Eastside 42, North Marion 0
Friday, Sept. 29
Oak Hall 74, Eagle’s View (Jacksonville) 32
Menendez (St. Augustine) 30, Gainesville 14
P.K. Yonge 28, Santa Fe (Alachua) 27
Williston 56, North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) 0
Chiefland 40, Trenton 20
Columbia (Lake City) 36, Orange Park 0
Suwannee (Live Oak) 33, Taylor County (Perry) 0
Bradford (Starke) 48, Keystone Heights 6
Bell 29, Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) 6
Lafayette (Mayo) 47, Branford 6
Lake Weir (Ocala) def. St. Francis Catholic Academy, forfeit
OFF – Bronson, Buchholz, Dixie County (Cross City), Fort White, Hawthorne, Newberry, Union County (Lake Butler)