Buchholz Advances to the Regional Semifinals
(Photo credit: Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner)
- Gainesville, FL
By: Curtis Michaud
The Buchholz Bobcats football team has earned double-digit wins on the season as they advanced to the Region 1-7A Semifinals.
On Thursday night at Citizens Field in Gainesville, the Bobcats (10-1) were able to defeat Fleming Island (6-5), 35-7, in the 7A Regional Quarterfinals.
Both teams entered this contest playing fairly well.
The Bobcats secured the No.1 seed after a 28-13 victory over Bartram Trail (St. Johns). While FIHS entered the game winning five of their last six.
However, for the entire game, the Golden Eagles weren't able to muster anything offensively.
“I think our offense played the best they could today, coming into this game we got caught with flu bug,” said FIHS head coach Damenyum Springs. “Our starting center and tackle couldn’t play.”
The Bobcats' impressive defense held Springs’ and the Golden Eagle offense to under one hundred yards total for the game.
“Our defense sets the tone for our team and that’s kind of how we’re built,” said Bobcats head coach Mark Whittemore. “Our bloodline is defense first, and so their play really ignites us.”
To start the game, the FIHS won the opening coin toss electing to play defense first.
After forcing a BHS punt on their first possession, the move to defer to the second half by coach Springs looked very promising.
However, after a muffed punt on the 5-yard line, the Bobcats were able to recover the ball in scoring position on the Golden Eagles’ 1-yard line.
Buchholz was able to capitalize on the turnover after senior running back E.J. Gadson tumbled for the 1-yard touchdown. Just like that, the top-ranked team in the region led 7-0 with 9:46 left in the first quarter.
“To get that kind of spark, it’s wonderful to get that from the special teams unit. Our punter did a great job hanging it high inside the 10,” Whittemore continued. “We reaped the benefits of that.”
From there, Whittemore and the Bobcats never looked back, scoring touchdowns on their next three possessions.
Three-star junior quarterback Creed Whittemore threw for three touchdown passes, including a toss to wide receiver standout Quan Lee to put the Bobcats up 21-0.
“Quan is a once-in-about-10 years type of player, and guys like that are always going to be there for you,” Creed said. “You can look out there and give a nod and Quan is going to come down with the ball when you put it up in the air.”
It seemed that offensively, the Bobcats were clicking on all cylinders--especially after a 50-yard completion down the sideline to six-foot wideout Adrian Sermons, getting the ball to the 1-yard line.
“He (Sermons) actually has a torn labrum so he’s playing through some pain,” Creed said. “I am lucky to have one of the best receiving cores in the state.
A second Gadson rushing touchdown from the 1-yard line with 4:23 left in the second quarter provided Bobcats with a comfortable lead.
Springs’ and the Golden Eagles long night continued as a turnover on offense allowed the Bobcats to get another touchdown before the half.
With 1:22 left, speedy wideout Jacarree Kelly caught a 12-yard bubble screen to put the score 35-0, forcing mercy rule to come in effect.
“I think we executed really well, and defense played great,” Whittemore said. “We were able to rest our starters in the second half which is a blessing in the first round the playoffs.”
Second half action went fairly quick as the clocked continued to run. Creed and the Bobcats starting offense's night was officially done as Whittemore allowed his bench to see some action.
“It’s easy to get sloppy in a game like this,” Whittemore said. “ Our big concern is that we don’t make sloppy plays and turn around and that make that a habit."
Still, the Bobcats defense didn’t let up, allowing zero points for the Golden Eagles offense.
However, the Golden Eagles finally mustered some points on the board late in the fourth quarter.
With 4:37 left in the fourth, FIHS got a special teams scoop-and-score after blocking a Bobcats punt, putting the score 35-7.
“Good thing about this team they will remember us, and we will be back next year,” said Springs.
For Whittemore and BHS, they plan to continue the momentum as the team plans to rest for the next three days.
“The big thing is that we just don’t lose momentum, its actually advantage Buchholz from a rest standpoint,” Whittemore said.
The Bobcats now look ahead towards the winner of the four-five matchup between the Fletcher Senators (5-5) and the University Titans (6-2).