Eastside loses to Suwannee

Homecoming game is next


Eastside senior tight end Seth Brown drops a pass last Friday at Citizens Field. The Suwannee High School Bulldogs beat the Eastside High School Rams 16-7.

BRETT LE BLANC/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 3:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 3:02 p.m.

With a chance to take control of the race to repeat as champions in District 5-5A, the Eastside High School football team was upended and thrown in the pack with other one-loss teams in the district race after suffering a 16-7 loss to district newcomer Suwannee High School last Friday night at Citizens Field.

Facts

RAMS HOMECOMING

* What: Eastside High School homecoming game against Crystal River.

* When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18.

* Where: Citizens Field.

* Cost: $7.

* Information: Call 352-955-6704.

After an open date this week, the Rams (2-4 overall and 1-1 in district play) will try to stay in the hunt for the district championship when they host district foe Crystal River (2-3 overall and 0-2 in district play) during the Rams 2013 homecoming game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Citizens Field.

Eastside coach Jeff Parker said he takes the blame for his team not being zeroed in on the game like they were a week earlier against perennial power North Marion, who the Rams beat for the second straight year.

"Tonight, we just made mental mistakes," Parker said. "We jumped off sides in key situations and we didn't line up to our assignments. Last week, these boys were locked in, and this week, they were not focused like they needed to be, and that's my fault. I take responsibility for that."

The Eastside defense didn't get much help from its offense against the Bulldogs, who rolled up 316 rushing yards on basic pitch-out runs to both sidelines and runs through the middle of the Eastside defense. Despite giving up 300-plus yards on the ground, the Rams defense forced and recovered two fumbles and the Rams punt coverage team forced and recovered a fumble.

Eastside junior quarterback Malachi Lofland ran the ball to the Suwannee six-yard line on a quarterback keeper, but the ball was placed at the 25-yard line because of a holding penalty on the Rams. Lofland then hit senior tight end/wide receiver Seth Brown on an 11-yard quick out, giving the Rams offense its best scoring opportunity of the night, with a first-and-goal situation from the nine-yard line. That scoring opportunity faded away when Lofland fumbled on the next play.

The Bulldogs then went on an 86-yard touchdown drive, aided by an off-sides penalty against Eastside on third-and-four deep in the Bulldogs territory that kept the drive alive. The Bulldogs then gained 44 yards on a quick-trap play up the middle of the Eastside defense to move the ball to the 21-yard line of the Rams. Soon afterward, on third-and-nine from the 19, Aaron McAllister took an inside hand off in motion to scoot around the right end, breaking several tackles enroute to an impressive touchdown run to put Suwannee ahead 6-0.

The Eastside offense sputtered throughout the game, and after Suwannee went ahead 9-7 with a 32-yard field goal with 5:21 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs sealed the victory with a 23-yard touchdown run by Jai Kinsey to make the score 16-7 with 5:33 left in the game.

Suwannee coach Jamie Rodgers said the win was huge for his program.

"It has been a long time since we've had that big a win in a district setting," Rodgers said. "This is big for us."

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