Eastside falls short in district

Senior Night is Friday at Citizens Field

Santa Fe’s Tony Sowell (25) tries to deflect a pass intended for Eastside’s Seth Brown (9). Santa Fe won 35-30.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.

When the Santa Fe High School defense sacked Eastside junior quarterback Landon Rodgers on a fourth-and-long play with 1:37 left to play in the District 5-5A football game at Santa Fe last Friday night, it also sacked Eastside's bid to force a three-way tie for first place in the district.



* What: Eastside High School vs. Bradford County High School.

* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

* Where: Citizens Field.

* Cost: $7.

* Information: Call 352-955-6704.

Eastside (4-5 overall and 4-2 in district play) loss the game 35-30, and will close out the season against Bradford County High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Senior Night. The loss to Santa Fe prevented the Rams from forcing a three-way tie for first place in the district that would have forced a three-team playoff game that would have been played Monday at Suwannee High School in Live Oak. North Marion is district champions and Suwannee is distinct runner-up.

The Eastside players were visibly upset after the loss to Santa Fe, and coach Jeff Parker said he told the entire team that it is important they beat Bradford on Senior Night.

"I just told them it's about pride next week," Parker said. "The young guys have to send the seniors out with a win."

Parker said despite being down 35-21 in the fourth quarter, his team still had a chance to win if it could have executed on its last offensive drive that began in Eastside territory with 2:32 left in the game.

The Rams showed a lot of pride against Santa Fe (5-3, 3-3), battling back from adversity several times during the game. Santa Fe's opening drive ended with senior running back Tray Presley racing around right end for a touchdown with 9:18 left in the first quarter to put the Raiders on top 7-0.

The Rams were forced to punt on their first possession, and Santa Fe had an opportunity to take a 14-0 lead, but failed to do so when a receiver dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone. They eventually missed a field goal on the drive.

Eastside scored early in the second quarter when junior running back/defensive back Octavious Simmons blocked a Santa Fe punt, then picked the ball up and ran for a 22-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7 with 11:15 left in the first half.

Santa Fe quickly responded in less than a minute with a score of its on as quarterback Marcus Archer put a dazzling shake move on an Eastside safety enroute to a 55-yard touchdown run with 10:24 left in the first half.

Eastside wasted a great scoring opportunity later in the quarter when Rodgers fumbled a snap on the Santa Fe two-yard line. The Eastside defense forced the Raiders to punt and Rodgers made up for the fumble by leading the Rams on an efficient two-minute drive at the end of the first half that ended with him throwing a 32-yard touchdown to junior receiver/quarterback Malachi Lofland in the half to tie the score at 14.

The third quarter began with the Rams looking like they were ready to take control of the game as Simmons raced 82 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the third play of the quarter to put the Rams ahead 21-14.

Later in the quarter, the Eastside defense had to play without Johnson, and on the next play after Johnson limped to the sideline to have one of his ankles taped over, Jemari Ford scored on a quarterback keeper to tie the score at 21 with 5:41 left in the quarter.

The Raiders scored 14 more points in the quarter after turnovers by the Eastside offense, building a lead the Rams could not overcome.

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