Gainesville wins district in battle of Hurricanes

Gainesville's Juan Jenkins hits Citrus quarterback Delon Moore during the Purple Hurricanes 38-16 victory at Citizens Field which made them the Class 6A District 5 champions.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.

Despite a celebratory ice bath on a chilly night, first-year Gainesville coach Mark Latsko kept a warm smile.

In a clash of Hurricanes, Gainesville defended its District 5-6A title and maintained its 16-game home winning streak with a 38-16 win over No. 10 Inverness Citrus on Friday night.

“From the very first time I stepped on campus in April, we talked about how we needed to win the city championship and district championship,” he said. “It's nice to win games against non-district rivals, but you've got to win the ones that count.”

Gainesville running back Tony James howled when told of his 203-yard rushing performance, but said the district championship and securing home-field advantage in the playoffs was more important.

“Home field is important to us. This crowd really gets us going,” he said, also thanking the offensive line and coaches. “In the playoffs, anything can happen but with home field, there's nothing better.”

Gainesville (7-1, 4-0) took over after a scoreless first quarter, scoring three touchdowns on a 19-yard Kenric Young reception, 13-yard run by James and an 8-yard catch by Dontarian Evans.

Citrus (7-1, 2-1), which came in averaging 38 points per game, fooled everyone with redirect plays and faked handoffs throughout the game — none more so than when quarterback Deion Moore tucked the ball behind his back, spun around and launched a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide-open receiver Desmond Franklin.

After covering 222 yards in the first half, Gainesville only gained 85 yards after halftime. Latsko attributed it to strong special teams returns from Ahmad Ivey and Evans, who answered a Citrus touchdown by returning a kickoff 80 yards to the end zone.

“We weren't able to get in an offensive rhythm, with the long kick returns and big plays,” he said. “We couldn't hold onto the ball long enough to see what halftime adjustments they had made.”

Citrus, despite a bevy of dropped passes, outgained Gainesville with 346 total yards.

“For as long as our defense was on the field, especially in the second half, I thought they did outstanding,” he said. “Our lines were able to hit at the point of attack, which is something we stress.”

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