Rams taken by storm
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 1:01 a.m.
With the return of standout Sir Jackson to the lineup at quarterback, Eastside coach Jeff Parker thought his Rams had a fighting chance against the Class 6A, top-ranked Gainesville Hurricanes.
Just as long as they played mistake-free football. The Hurricanes made sure that didn't happen.
Quarterback Mark Cato accounted for four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing, and both Ralph Webb and Tony James topped 100 yards on the ground as Gainesville dominated the Rams, 40-0, before a capacity crowd Friday night at Citizens Field.
The Hurricanes (5-0) jumped on Eastside early, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and started the onslaught with a 50-yard pass from Cato to a wide-open Larry Prunty on their second offensive play.
“It was good. I think we executed pretty well,” said GHS coach James Thomson. “It meant a lot to the seniors to win this game. Now we are halfway through and Buchholz will be next after next week's game at Citrus.
“I'm just glad we won. We wanted to defend our field, Citizens Field. That's important. There is stuff we have to clean up, but (Cato) is getting better. We just have to get more consistent.”
Cato passed for 184 yards, 114 of that in the first half. Webb, one of the area's toughest inside runners, had 126 yards on just 15 carries with a 50-yard touchdown run in the third, putting the 'Canes up 33-0 at that point. And James, who showed he can be effective running inside as well as using his blazing speed outside, had 109 yards on 10 carries and the final score, a 5-yard run up the middle following a run of 31 yards.
“I never want to stop, never quit,” said Webb, who was still carrying the football late in the fourth. “It always feels great to come home with a victory. We are going to beat Buchholz, too, and officially declare ourselves city champs.”
Those city rivals meet on Oct. 12 at Citizens Field.
Cato hit Kenric Young, who had five receptions on the night, on a 10-yard TD pass later in the first for a 14-0 lead. A 2-yard scoring run by Cato made it 20-0 at the half.
The senior had his second straight rushing TD, going 10 yards to cap the opening drive of the second half to increase GHS's lead to 26-0.
Jackson injured his right shoulder in the season-opening win over Buchholz, and reaggravated it a week later against Ocala Trinity Catholic. He sat out both the Orlando Jones and Dunnellon games as sophomore Landon Rogers took over the QB duties.
But with the city rivalry on the line, Parker said Jackson wanted to be on the field to help his team.
“Sir is a competitor,” Parker said. “He played injured, he battled through it. The timing just wasn't there. It was off.
“I told our kids on Monday, this is one of the best teams in the state, the No. 1 team in Class 6A. If we don't play mistake-free football we are not going to beat them. And we made a lot of mistakes and the score is evident of that.”
Eastside (2-3), which has lost four straight to GHS (the last two by shutout), totaled just 103 total yards with three first downs. GHS had 18 first downs, 436 total yards and punted only once.
The 'Canes return to District 5-6A play next week at Inverness Citrus (3-2) while the Rams will host Belleview Thursday night in District 5-5A play.
“City rivalries are always tough games,” Cato said. “We have won every game ever since I was in ninth grade. We are going to go through and take each team week by week, and try to keep our undefeated season going.”