Late TD run lifts Hurricanes over Cowboys

Gainesville Hurricanes receiver Kenric Young celebrates with teammate Trent Wooden (56) after scoring a touchdown against the Madison County Cowboys. Gainesville defeated the Cowboys 20-12.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013 at 8:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 at 8:12 p.m.

The heavyweights didn’t disappoint.

Recent rivals Madison County and Gainesville High were locked in a defensive slugfest for much of Friday night’s game at Citizens Field. Then came the fourth-quarter fireworks.

With the Hurricanes trailing by five points and pinned at their own 6-yard line, Gainesville coaches asked running back Tony James for a big play. He answered by turning the corner and bolting to the end zone, teammates and coaches chasing him down the sideline on the 94-yard score that put Gainesville up for good.

First-year Gainesville coach Mark Latsko led the charge down the sideline fast enough he seemingly could have beat James to the end zone.

“I’m pretty quick now. I’ve still got one or two steps left in me,” he said with a laugh.

Ahmad Ivey added a 91-yard score following a fumble recovery and return on special teams in the closing minutes to seal Gainesville’s 20-12 win over the Cowboys, who entered ranked No. 5 in Class 4A.

Kicking seemed like the only advantage Gainesville (2-1) had against Madison County (1-2), with Alex Holloway uncorking a 56-yard punt in the first quarter and the Cowboys fumbling away two field goal attempts and two extra-point attempts.

“There’s lots of hidden yardage going on in special teams,” Latsko said. “We’ve worked on punts since I got here in April. We’re pretty confident in being able to punt the football with good protection and good coverage, and we’ve got a great kicker.”

Madison County dominated the offensive side of the ball for most of the game, led by running back Eric Bright’s 142 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. The Cowboys wing-T offense chewed up 147 yards in the first half, compared to Gainesville’s 76 yards.

For the game, Madison County racked up 19 first downs, while Gainesville earned only five.

“We were just fortunate enough that the defense came up with enough big plays when they had to,” Latsko said. “They’re a great program and perennial powerhouse up to the north. We’re happy to come out with a win and would like to continue this rivalry into the future.”

Gainesville quarterback Caelan Christian and receiver Kenric Young carried the ’Canes offense for the first half, hooking up for five completions, 59 yards and a touchdown. Christian finished 8-of-11 passing for 109 yards, with Young grabbing six passes for 90 yards.

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