It was a great night for Suwannee football. The Dogs took control of the game against Sebastian River early and won their first game of the season 26-13.
The weather was beautiful. There was a soft breeze and the humidity and heat of summer finally seemed to be abating. The Suwannee offense that had stuttered so badly against Columbia was reborn with new plays and different attitudes. The ball was in the air on first down on numerous occasions. The Dogs didn't dominate offensively, but they did get the job done with big plays when needed.
The Dog defense was on the field for a long time again against Sebastian River. Unlike the Columbia game, Suwannee's "D" held on and shut Sebastian River out in the second half. The defense had trouble controlling the Shark running game in the first half, but was able to make adjustments that worked.
Both teams got off to a slow start. Suwannee received the ball first. Quarterback Taj Roundtree aired out the ball early but was unable to find his mark. In Sebastian River's second series, Duke Doe forced yet another fumble. Doctor Doom Doe forced the fumble and Justin Starling recovered for the Dogs on the five-yard line.
Last week, Suwannee couldn't score from this same distance. This week, nose tackle Michael Wright went in as a fullback. Roundtree handed off to Wright who dragged Sebastian River's entire front four with him to the one-yard line. Roundtree kept the ball on the next play and Suwannee had its first TD in regular season play. Cameron Ridgeway's point-after kick was good and the Dogs were up 7-0 with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
In the Dog's next series, Suwannee was floundering in a third and 20-plus yards situation. Roundtree flicked a short pass to Nate Herring who lateralled one off to Patrick Brown. Brown ran 45 yards for the second Suwannee TD. It's called the hook and ladder play and it worked. With 1:19 left in the first quarter, the point after was no good, but the Dogs had a 13-0 lead.
In the Dogs next series, once again Suwannee's offense faltered. It was third and 13. Roundtree tossed a 75-yard bomb right into Duke Doe's waiting arms. Doe scored with 9:58 left in the half. He was cited for excessive celebrating, but the Dogs still earned the point after and the score went to 20-0.
Sebastian River came back strong in the second quarter. With 6:07 left in the half, the Sharks got their first TD. Then Suwannee fumbled and the Sharks recovered on the Dog 38. Sebastian River capitalized on the Suwannee error, scoring with 4:35 left in the half. The point after kick was no good and the score went to 20-13 and stayed that way through halftime.
In the second half, Brandon Allen earned a first down with several good runs. The Dogs were able to mount a steady move downfield ending with an up-the-middle TD run by Allen. The Dogs tried a two-point conversion and failed. The score went to 26-13 with 5:04 left in the third quarter and stayed there for the rest of the game.
Suwannee's defense ramped up their efforts in the second half and even though they played for at least 60 snaps, the defense stayed strong and held Sebastian River scoreless. The final score was a huge victory for Suwannee, a first victory for new head coach Bobby Bennett as a Bulldog. The Sebastian River team was playing its first game of the year. They are a well-coached team and should do well in the rest of their season.
Suwannee's defense did a great job. Andy Day, Tom Daniels and Dale Allen of Q98 had a hard time deciding on the defensive player of the game. After much deliberation #53 Justin Starling was named First Federal Defensive Player of the Game. #23 Brandon Allen, back this year from a knee injury, was named First Federal Offensive Player of the Game. Allen scored one of Suwannee's touchdowns.
The Dogs travel to Gainesville for a Thursday night game tomorrow night. GHS has several starting players suspended after a fight. It should be an interesting game. Come out to Citizen's Field in Gainesville tomorrow night and support the Suwannee Bulldogs. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Go Dogs!