The Suwannee High School Bulldogs (3-1) traveled south to Gainesville Friday night to take on the Eastside High School Rams and defeated the Rams 16-7 for their third win of the season.
Eastside got the ball to start the first quarter. The Bulldogs’ defense made an early statement and got the Rams off the field in a four-and-out.
The ‘Dogs received the ball and had a great return, however, they fumbled the ball and Eastside got the ball back.
Eastside was moving the ball and got it down to the 14 yard line, however, the home team fumbled the ball and Suwannee recovered it.
Suwannee made a few short gains and a false start penalty on the Rams gave the Bulldogs a first down. Dee Coleman got the ball to their own 33 for a first down. Jai Kinsey got about a nine yard gain followed by a big gain and got the ball to the Rams’ 21 yard line. Suwannee was moved back five yards for a face mask penalty, but that didn’t stop Aaron McAllister from getting the ball into the end zone for the first score of the game. The extra point attempt was no good, 6-0.
The Rams got the ball, but their offense couldn’t keep the drive going and was forced to punt.
Suwannee got the ball back and was moving the ball prior to the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs moved the ball down the field, however, they had two fumbles they were able to recover. Suwannee ended their drive by punting the ball to the Rams, but they blocked the punt and walked it in for a touchdown. The Rams made the extra point attempt and took the lead, 7-6.
Suwannee got the ball for what was an eventful drive. Suwannee got the ball to the 26 yard line, but fumbled and recovered it. Several short runs kept the drive going. Two holding penalties on Suwannee resulted in a third and long, and they were not able to convert. On Fourth and 26, they punted the ball back to the home team.
The Rams were able to get a short drive going, however, about eight plays later, their offense was off the field.
Suwannee started their drive at the 26 yard line. A pass was caught at the 37 yard line. The ball was moved back five yards for delay of game on Suwannee. A few plays later, the Bulldogs got the ball to midfield with 57 seconds on the clock. Two penalties on Suwannee moved the ball in the wrong direction and kept the Bulldogs from scoring.
Suwannee received the ball to start the second half. After moving the ball well for several plays, another delay of game penalty on the Bulldogs set them back five yards. A big run by McAllister got the ball to the Rams’ 22 yard line. With 5:21 left to go in the third, Suwannee made a field goal attempt to lead 9-7.
The Rams were able to get several first downs, but Suwannee’s defense held the Rams out of the end zone.
Suwannee got the ball back and the offense was able to get the ball moving, however, penalties plagued the drive and hindered their scoring efforts. The Bulldogs were not able to put points on the board before giving the ball back.
With 10:36 left to go, the Bulldogs took over at the 27 yard line. A penalty on the Rams puts the Bulldogs closer to a first down. A run by Cole Lamb gave the Bulldogs a first down. Another run by Lamb moved the chains on a 14 yard gain. Short runs and passes moved the ball down into the red zone. Kinsey ran the ball up the middle for a touchdown with 5:33 left on the clock. The extra point attempt was good, 16-7.
Suwannee was penalized for being offsides while kicking the ball to the Rams and had to re-kick from the 35 yard line. The home team made a great return on the ball and crossed midfield, however, a penalty on the play moved the ball back to the 17 yard line. Just a few plays later, McAllister intercepted the ball and Suwannee took over.
Suwannee got the ball into the red zone and ran the ball in for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding penalty on Suwannee. Suwannee was able to run time off the clock and seal their second win on the road this season.
Thoughts from the sideline
“It was a big game atmosphere, and I was really proud of the guys,” Head Coach Jamie Rodgers said. “I’m as proud of them as I can be.”
With the performance the Bulldogs gave on the road, the coach should be proud.
For the first time this year, the offense and defense were both dominating in the game. The defense did not allow a score and the offense was able to move the ball and keep it away and controlled time of possession.
“They played really hard. The defense has been dominant all year and they were dominant again Friday night. They (Eastside) only ran 26 plays on offense. We didn’t let them get going,” Rogers said. Suwannee County ran 68 plays during the contest Friday night.
Rodgers noted three outstanding players from Friday night’s game: Dee Coleman, who gained 126 yards in 28 attempts; Cole Lamb gained about 70 yards in just 11 attempts; and Jai Kinsey gained 110 yards in 15 attempts.
“They’re really buying in and they really like the system,” he said.
Although it was a great performance by the Bulldogs, Rodgers said there’s still some work to do.
Suwannee managed to put the ball on the turf many times, however, Eastside was only able to recover the ball once. The ‘Dogs also had 110 yards in penalties.
“Penalties and fumbles will make you look bad on offense, even if you are good,” he said.
Rodgers said the team has improved in turnovers and will continue to work on ball handling skills and to clean up little stuff that causes penalties.
“We have been putting an emphasis on penalties and holding the ball. We’ll continue to do that this week.”
The Bulldogs will return home this Friday night for homecoming to take on the Rattlers of Belleview High School (3-2), who are coming off of a 56-14 loss to Dunnellon. With all of the festivities going on, Rodgers said he will be encouraging his team to stay focused.
“With all the festivities surrounding homecoming, you worry that the focus isn’t there. The win Friday night put us back in the district race. We’ll talk to them about staying focused, especially with district implications on the line.”
Rodgers said the Rattlers’ offense is loaded with explosive players.
“They scored 31 points on offense against Eastside (on Sept. 20, 2013),” Rodgers said. “They’ve got some offensive threats that could give us some problems.”
The game Friday night will kick off at 7:30 p.m.