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Gainesville tops Eastside for 12th straight year

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First-year GHS football coach Dock Pollard

By Cam Parker
Twitter – @camparker25

On Friday night at Citizen’s Field, Gainesville High beat Eastside by a score of 37-7.

It was the 12th straight win in the series for the ‘Canes.

The win was not pretty, as both teams combined for 30 penalties, but a stout defense and a strong run game by Gainesville led them to the win over their city rivals.

After turning the ball over on downs for their first drive, Gainesville defensive back Arnold Strachen, an Eastside transfer, intercepted a pass that put the ‘Canes at the Rams’ 25-yard line. This led to a 12-yard touchdown run by Kyree Edwards.

“It feels good,” said Edwards, who would also be named the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game. “Now, on to playoff week. It is the biggest opportunity right there, so we got to chase that.”

The ensuing kickoff would be bobbled and recovered by the Rams inside their own five-yard line, which would end in a disaster for the Rams.

After two false starts and a negative two-yard run that put them just outside the goal line, Rams running back Keonte Macon would be tackled in the end zone by a swarm of Canes for a safety.

That put Gainesville up 9-0 at the end of the first quarter.

A few drives later, Gainesville quarterback Shamon Coleman would find tight end Dallas Figueroa for a 23-yard reception to put the Hurricanes inside the 25-yard line. Two plays later, Coleman would hit Brent King on a slant route for a 17-yard touchdown to make the score 16-0 in favor of the ‘Canes.

After an Eastside punt and a turnover on downs by Gainesville, the Rams’ offense would finally show signs of life after a long drive that put them at the Cane 30-yard line. However, a deep throw towards the end zone was intercepted by Tajawuan Welch.

Gainesville would drive the ball down the field and set themselves up for a 40-yard field goal attempt. However, the kick was short, which kept the score at 16-0 at the end of the half.

To start the second half, the stout Cane defense forced a quick three-and-out and gave the offense the ball at the Ram 33-yard line. A few plays later, a John Cooper 10-yard run on fourth-and-one put the ball inside the 15-yard line. From here, Ryan Nolan would score the Canes’ third touchdown of the night on a one-yard run.

Once again, Eastside would find a little bit of life after recovering a muffed punt. The next play, quarterback Holden Johnson would find Micah Hudson for a 23-yard completion to set the Rams up in great field position. However, the Gainesville defense would step up when they were needed the most and made a huge stop on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense.

Gainesville’s offense would not capitalize off of this. Eastside defender Artrayul Goss would intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown. This was the Rams’ only touchdown of the night.

The Canes’ offense would not let this mistake hold them back, as on the next drive, Kyree Edwards would take the handoff for 57-yards and put the ball at the one-yard line. The next play, Nay’Ron Jenkins would finish the drive with a touchdown rush.

The offense would continue rolling from here. After forcing another turnover on downs, John Cooper would punch in the final score of the night with a seven-yard touchdown rush.

Coach Dock Pollard praised his team for their improvement, after only practicing seven times last month due to COVID-19 issues.

“It feels good,” he said. “We just haven’t had a lot of time together. We’re not an accomplished football team just because we won tonight.  What happened was we saw a team finally getting the reps.  We’re getting better because we’re getting reps.”

Next week, which marks the start of the FHSAA state playoffs, Gainesville (2-3) will host on Mainland (Daytona Beach) at Santa Fe (Alachua) in the Class 6A playoffs, while Eastside (1-7) hosts Dunnellon on Thursday night in Class 5A.

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