Eastside scores 20 unanswered to beat Dunnellon

Dunnellon's Josh Williams runs the ball in for a touchdown as Eastside's Octavious Simmons tries to stop him. Eastside defeated Dunnellon 20-17 in District 5-5A.

Bruce Ackerman/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

DUNNELLON — Sometimes you learn more about yourself on your worst nights than on your best ones.

Playing a must-win District 5-5A football game in Dunnellon on Friday, Eastside committed three turnovers in the first quarter and was behind 10-0 before the fans were settled in the stands.

It was a heavy dose of adversity for a team that simply had to have a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

The Rams overcame.

Octavious Simmons rumbled for three rushing touchdowns as Eastside scored 20 unanswered points, then held on for a 20-17 win.

"We spotted them 10 points and we came back," Eastside coach Jeff Parker said. "We fought. Our kids did a great job and I was proud of them."

Parker was less than thrilled with his team's performance out of the gate, but he said the Rams' comeback offers an opportunity to build character going forward.

"It gives you strength, but we’ve got to be better week to week," he said. "We play great games and then we have bad games. We’ve got to keep it consistent."

Eastside (4-4, 4-1) got a scare in the fourth quarter when Dunnellon executed an option pass for a 44-yard Joey Pollizzi touchdown.

It gave the host Tigers (5-4, 3-3) the momentum with just over 5 minutes remaining, but Eastside squashed it with an authoritative, run-only drive that drained the game-clock and produced three clutch first downs.

The Rams turn their attention to next week's showdown at Santa Fe, where they'll need to survive another do-or-die affair — while also seeking a little revenge.

"We lost to them last year and that was our only loss in the district," Parker said. "We’ve still got to win that game to have a chance to get in the playoffs, so it’s a huge game for us."

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