'Canes storm past Bobcats
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 11:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 11:49 p.m.
When playing a No. 1 team, the last thing you want to do is make scoring opportunities any easier.
Losing five of seven fumbles certainly didn't help Buchholz against Class 6A No. 1 Gainesville on Friday night at Citizens Field. And Hurricane quarterback Mark Cato made the Bobcats pay for it.
Cato tossed four touchdown passes, two each to Case Harrison and Kenric Young, as Gainesville celebrated homecoming with a convincing 44-7 win over Buchholz, clinching the Hurricanes' fourth consecutive city title.
Harrison also scored on a 1-yard run to cap the scoring in the fourth, giving him three touchdowns for the game. He finished with five receptions for 122 yards, with Young also catching five passes for 93 yards. Cato, who was 7-of-9 in the first half, finished 12-of-22 for 222 yards.
“To play Buchholz and have three touchdowns means a lot to me and my family,” said Harrison, whose Hurricanes improved to 7-0 on the season. “Mark has improved phenomenally since last season. I have trust in him. He is like that everyday in practice.
“He is a great quarterback, and I love playing for him. Me and him are kind of on the same wave length when it comes to thinking about throwing and catching, and it turns out good.”
Harrison had a beautiful 20-yard over-the-shoulder catch in the left corner of the end zone, and caught a 30-yard TD pass early in the second quarter, giving GHS a 21-7 lead.
Following the fourth fumble of the first half, Young caught his first scoring pass, a 34-yard strike to make it 30-7 with 7:07 left. Gainesville cashed in on Buchholz's first fumble, off a high snap over the head of quarterback Jordan Nichols in the shotgun, as the ball squirted into the Bobcats' end zone and the 'Canes recovered for a score on the game's second offensive play.
The Bobcats (2-5) actually made the game interesting in the first quarter when Ahmad Ivey came in at quarterback and faked a handoff, then darted up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown, cutting Gainesville's two touchdown lead to one, 14-7.
But that would be the biggest offensive play of the night for Buchholz, which had just 13 yards in the first half.
“That is really the tale of the game, those first-half miscues,” said Bobcats first-year coach Mark Whittemore. “We lost our third-string quarterback (Nichols) tonight with the shoulder. I was really proud of Ahmad Ivey, a 10th-grader coming in and playing quarterback for us the whole second half. He did a great job, hung in there and battled.
“We are just really decimated with injuries. It is really hard to get any continuity out there.”
GHS wide receiver Chris Thompson, a UF commit who had missed three games because of a foot injury, played some Friday, catching one pass and having a seven-yard end around run. Speedster Tony James, who transferred from Buchholz to GHS over the summer, was held out because of complaints of dizziness.
Buchholz was also without its leading rusher, Kenny Scott, who missed his second game because of a concussion. Whittemore said he is expected to play next week at Tallahassee Chiles.
The Bobcats' defensive front played well at times, especially in the first quarter when it registered three sacks of Cato. And punter Mike Destephens had a stellar night kicking the ball, averaging 46.3 yards a punt, with a long of 52 yards.
The 'Canes were actually held under 100 yards rushing with Ralph Webb leading the team with 85 yards on 14 carries.
“Emotions are always sky high in rivalry games, so considering all that was involved in this game with the homecoming stuff, I thought the kids played very well,” said Gainesville coach James Thomson. “They were over excited a bit early, but they pulled through and got the job done.”
Ahead for GHS is huge District 5 matchup with Ocala Vanguard next Friday at Citizens Field. A win over the Knights, who lost 35-14 to Ocala Trinity Catholic, would clinch the district for the 'Canes and home-field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs.
Last year, Vanguard upset GHS in Ocala, 16-14.
“It is a big week coming up,” Thomson said. “We have had that bad taste in our mouth for a year now. We are excited to play them.”