MADISON, Fla. — Three turnovers plus two return touchdowns allowed added up to another loss to Madison County.
Suwannee High overcame a bad start to Friday’s rivalry game at Boot Hill Stadium but the Class 1A No. 1 Cowboys pulled away in the second half, sparked by a fumble return for a touchdown to turn a one-score game into a 55-28 romp.
“You can’t do it against Madison, or any good team for that fact,” SHS coach Kyler Hall said after the Bulldogs lost for the 20th straight time against Madison County.
“We had turnovers, penalties and bad special teams play and that’s going to get you every time.”
Regrouping from an early 14-0 deficit, Suwannee (3-1) trailed the 4-0 Cowboys just 27-21 at halftime. But after trading punts to open the third quarter, MCHS capitalized on a big Suwannee miscue.
When SHS quarterback Tyree Taylor dropped a snap on third down, Madison linebacker Kelivon Oliver scooped the loose ball and raced 35 yards to put the Cowboys back up two scores and they cruised from there, adding short runs from running back Robert Hiers late in the third and early in the fourth to go up by 27.
After Taylor scored on a 12-yard run midway through the fourth, Madison tacked on a Derrion Staten touchdown for the final score.
“Hat’s off to Madison, great team,” Hall added.
Early on, it looked like Madison was going to enjoy another easy game against the Bulldogs. The Cowboys had won the previous eight games by an average of 38.4 points in the series, which Suwannee still leads 28-25-2.
MCHS needed just three plays to grab the lead when Vinsonta Allen raced 49 yards untouched on an empty backfield quarterback run barely a minute into the game.
Then, after Suwannee went 3-and-out, Allen picked up the punt after it rolled down at the Suwannee 38 and scored to make it 14-0 with 8:10 left in the first.
“They made the heads’ up play on the punt return,” Hall said. “There was a lot of self-inflicted stuff that didn’t help us.”
But Suwannee fought back, led by junior do-everything back Jaquez Moore. Two plays after falling behind by two scores, Moore pulled up on a toss sweep and hit Keiwan Ladler wide open behind the defense for 53 yards. Two plays later, he scored from 6 yards out.
After a Madison fumble, the Bulldogs tied it on the first play of the second quarter when Moore scored on a 16-yard run.
Back down a score when Hiers, who gashed the SHS defense for 198 yards and four touchdowns — including a 4-yard run on fourth-and-3 with 3:18 left in the half to put MCHS ahead for good — on 24 carries, raced 81 yards, Moore again answered the bell for the Bulldogs.
On Suwannee’s 13-play game-tying drive, he picked up first downs on a third-and-1 run, a second-and-10 reception, a fourth-and-3 run after being hit in the backfield and then scored on a 4-yard run when he again broke a tackle in the backfield.
Moore, who also forced and recovered a fumble in the third quarter, led the Bulldogs with 104 yards on 14 carries with the three TDs.
“That first half…shows that we can score, that we can make plays,” Hall added.
The Bulldogs return home to host Baker County. The Wildcats are 2-1 and winners of two straight after beating Ed White 23-13 on Friday.