It was homecoming at Suwannee High. The pomp and pageantry and the football game all went off without a hitch. Suwannee took on Booker T. Washington High out of Pensacola and defeated them in a close, defensive match 10-7.
Washington had a great Division I prospect defensive back. He gave the Dog offense a hard time with his pass rushing capabilities, his speed and his size. But Suwannee prevailed, thanks to the Rheed Baldwin to Bruce Johnson passing attack. Suwannee had to make do with Johnson and several back-up receivers because Patrick Cherry was out due to injuries.
Captains for the game against Washington were Billy Moran, Nick Beck, Lee Laxton and Rashard Fleming. Each week the coaches choose the captains for the upcoming game.
The Dogs came out with a white "C" on the backs of their helmets in honor of Charlie Crews, a die-hard Dog fan who passed away at the first of this year.
Suwannee started the game receiving. The Washington Wildcats had a whale of a kicker. He put the kick-off into the end zone. Suwannee had to take the ball on the 20. Suwannee came out throwing. On the first play of the game, Baldwin connected to Johnson for a 30-yard gain and a first down. Billy Moran carried the ball for 11 on the next play, and the Dogs were on the move. Another complete pass to Johnson put the Dogs on the Cat 27.
But Suwannee faltered. On fourth down and seven the Dogs decided to go for it. Baldwin to Johnson was complete on the Cat 16 for another first down. Two busted plays followed. It was third and 10 and Ranard Fleming made a five-yard gain. With 7:26 left in the first half, Ranard Fleming scored. The point-after kick was good, and the Dogs were up 7-0. Things were looking good for Suwannee.
Washington was pretty well a running team. They came out running. A Cat got away from the Dogs and Washington scored. With 6:01 left in the first quarter, the game was tied 7-7.
Suwannee bounced back with more passing from Baldwin to Johnson. But after three and out, Billy Moran had to punt. Suwannee caught a big break in the Cats' next series. The Dogs recovered a Cat fumble. Terrell Roman snagged the fumble on the Cat 40-yard line.
On the second play of the series, Johnson scooped a long Baldwin pass off the ground, and the Dogs had a first down on the 15. But Suwannee couldn't capitalize with a touchdown. Washington threw almost every defensive player on the team at Baldwin in a full blitz and Suwannee trotted out the field-goal team. Kicker Timmy Smith booted one through the uprights and the Dogs were up 10-7 with 11:03 left in the half.
The game remained deadlocked at 10-7 though three more quarters. Both defensive squads fought hard. Moran made an interception in the last seconds of the half to stop Washington.
Both teams came out determined to win in the second half. Washington took one in for a TD that would have won them the game, but the touchdown was called back for a blocking in the back penalty.
Washington almost tied it up in the last seconds of the game with a field goal. But Moran, who had a great game, blocked a field-goal attempt before the kicker even got the ball off his foot. The Dogs took over as the clock ran out and Suwannee won 10-7.
The coaches and Big 98 radio announcers had a heck of a time deciding who to name players of the game. They ended up awarding the First Federal Offensive Player of the Game to Rheed Baldwin and the First Federal Defensive Player of the Game went to Terrell Roman. Baldwin was 15 for 30 and passed for 169 yards. Roman had a great game on defense and recovered the fumble that led to Suwannee's game-winning field goal.
Since there were so many outstanding performances, Homecoming Offensive Player of the Game was created and handed out to Bruce Johnson. And the Play of Game went to Billy Moran for his great block of the field goal that would have tied the game.
Bruce Johnson caught 19 passes for 111 yards. Coydrick Cray caught 18 passes for 42 yards.
The Washington Wildcats rushed for 249 yards behind a very large and impressive offensive line.
This week the Dogs travel to Tallahassee to play Godby for the district championship. Godby defeated Crestview on Friday 20-7. Their star runninback, Roy Upchurch, rushed for 239 yards in 21 carries. Their quarterback, Emanuel Francis, passed for 140 yards and was five for nine. Their best receiver is Deandre McDaniel. He caught three passes for 119 yards.
The Godby game is the game of the year, according to Head Football Coach Jay Walls. It will be played on Thursday at Gene Cox Stadium. Come out and support the team in this very important district championship game. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. Go Dogs!