by: Mike Ridaught
There’s no place like home.
Last year, the nationally-ranked Armwood Hawks edged Gainesville, 17-14, in Seffner, in the Class 6A Regional Finals, en route to winning the state championship (on the field).
But on Friday night, the roles were reversed.
The unbeaten Purple Hurricanes, also nationally-ranked, welcomed the Hawks, and the home team didn’t disappoint.
Led by a dominant rushing performance, against an Armwood defense that had only allowed 21 points in its last three games, the ‘Canes (13-0) steamrolled the Hawks, 42-10.
“We didn’t let momentum get us” said Gainesville coach James Thomson, who referred to GHS’ two fumbles in the opening quarter, one of which led to a 32-yard field goal by Nick Feely that gave the Hawks (9-4) a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. “We fought back.”
They fought back with a vengeance, scoring 35 unanswered points.
Senior running back Ralph Webb’s 20-yard TD run at the end of the first quarter gave the ‘Canes a 7-3 lead. It was one of three scores on the night for Webb, who finished with 207 yards rushing.
Backfield mate Tony James had a 28-yard TD run late in the first half to give GHS a 21-3 lead at the break. The junior added 128 yards rushing.
“We’re unstoppable together,” said James. “He’s lightning, and I’m thunder.”
Meanwhile, Gainesville ended the season unbeaten at home and improved to 30-1 since 2009.
“This meant a lot to our seniors,” said Webb. “We knew this was our last game at Citizen’s Field so we wanted to come out and leave it all out on the field.”
Gainesville will now travel to Navarre, which upset Lake City Columbia, 28-21.
–Follow on twitter @ridaught & online at www.theprepzone.com