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Gainesville

‘Canes lead early, fall late

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By Rachel Rosenblum
Twitter – @rachrosenblum_

The Lee (Jacksonville) Generals came marching down to Gainesville Friday night to face the one-win Gainesville Hurricanes for a Class 6A-District 2 game.

The Generals are in the midst of an impressive season as they are receiving votes in the Class 6A state rankings.

The Hurricanes are struggling to get another win and for the first half of the night it looked like it wasn’t too far out of reach.

Gainesville’s defense showed up early sacking quarterback Cale Zarah and forcing a quick 3-and-out by the Generals.

Shortly after, a muffed punt by the Generals set up a 14-yard touchdown run by KZ Hutchinson.

Lee struggled to get any sort of offense going for most of the first quarter as the Hurricanes’ defensive line was not letting anything get by them.

After a rough start by Zarah, he found his groove and used his legs a lot. A 20 yard run from him late in the first quarter set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Kevonte Doles to tie the game at 7.

One of the big problems for both teams were the flags flying all over the field. So many big plays and long drives were negated by penalties.

One drive in particular featured one of the plays of the night.

Gainesville QB Rod Williams connected with Alex Brown who made an unbelievable one handed grab for a gain of 52. Unfortunately penalties later in the drive brought the ball back and Gainesville was forced to punt.

Lee was still struggling to get something going on the offensive side of the ball and at one point during the second quarter they were forced to punt from their own 4-yard line.

Gainesville took advantage of this field position and would end up blocking the punt into the endzone earning a safety and a 9-7 lead.

Gainesville would add three more to the board before the halfway mark, and a 12-7 lead at the half, but that’s all they would get.

Lee came out of that locker room with a whole new attitude and it showed on the field.

“We had to man up, we were allowing them to push us around,” said coach O.J. Small, a former Gator wide receiver.

Small talked about how his boys just needed to show some more effort and he made sure to make some second half adjustments. He mentioned how big time players made big time plays.

“All we can ask for in life is opportunities,” he said. “Once you get the opportunity you have to take advantage of it.”

Lee substituted Cobie Bates in at quarterback and he got it started for the Generals.  Facing 4th and 9, Bates ran for about 35 yards into the endzone.  After a successful 2-point conversion, Lee led, 15-12, and would never trail again.

Williams was picked off twice in the second half.

Robert Simmons took his interception to the house and Larry Smith also recorded an interception.

Gainesville couldn’t get much going on offense in the second half. Lee would go on to score again with a minute left on the clock and the final score ended up being 27-12.

The Generals flipped off the field victorious.

Lee (6-3) will host Ed White (Jacksonville) on Thursday.  Gainesville (1-8) will close the regular season at city rival Eastside on Friday.

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