Santa Fe wins thriller, ends Eastside's playoff hopes

Santa Fe's Marcus Archer (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown Friday night against Eastside. The Red Raiders beat the Rams 35-30 in District 5-5A.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.

ALACHUA —The resolve to never quit is alive and well in Alachua.

Santa Fe coach Bill Wiles hugged everyone within arms reach after the Raiders clawed their way to a 35-30 win over Eastside, bouncing the Rams from the District 5-5A playoffs.

“We made some big plays and didn't quit. We fought hard and didn't quit,” Wiles said. “We're trying to build a football program here, and I think we're putting a brick in the wall every day.”

Tied at 21 midway through the third quarter, the Raiders (5-4, 3-3) turned two Eastside turnovers into touchdowns to get a lead they could finally protect.

Austin Gay and Caysaun Wakely recovered a failed lateral pass and an interception, respectively, to set up touchdown runs from Marcus Archer and Tray Presley to push the Santa Fe lead to 14 in the fourth quarter.

Santa Fe's trio of runners, Archer, Presley and Jermari Ford, each reached the end zone for the Raiders. Presley contributed 156 yards on 23 carries, followed by Ford with 90 and Archer with 89.

Eastside (4-5, 4-2) entered the game needing a win to secure at least a three-way tie with North Marion and Suwannee. With the loss, the Rams' season ends next week.

“I told the players all week that when you play a team like Santa Fe, with the offensive system they run, you have to play disciplined football all the time,” coach Jeff Parker said. “If you dont, you can't stop an offense like theirs.”

The Rams closed the gap to five points with a safety and 5-yard run from Malachi Lofland, but Eastside's final possession with 2:32 remaining went backward, ending on a 9-yard sack from Gay.

Octavious Simmons gained 70 yards on 13 carries, with Lofland contributing 55 yards and a touchdown. The Rams gained only 222 total yards.

Santa Fe senior fullback and linebacker Bradley English will never suit up for the Raiders again, but he won't quit either.

English was injured playing against Dunnellon in late September. While being treated for a concussion on the sideline, English required emergency medical attention and a trip to the intensive care unit.

“I've been getting better every day and being with the team definitely helps,” he said. “I'm a Raider all my life. I'll be there until the end.”

English, who was named homecoming king at halftime, ran onto the field in a tuxedo with his teammates before the game. He spent the second half bringing those teammates water.

The Raiders wear English's number three on the back of their helmets, and Ford wore English's jersey during his 90-yard performance on Friday night.

“He's with us everywhere we go,” Wiles said. “He's a huge part of our team whether he plays or not.”

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