Escambia High Gators: Schedules and Varsity Game Summary

New coach gets game ball in Gators' 27-14 win
Escambia handily beats P.C. Rutherford
Jamie Secola • • September 4, 2010

Escambia head coach Scott Anderson had just two weeks to get acquainted with his football team. And during the Gators' Friday night home game against Panama City Rutherford, he got a crash course in what his team can do.

Senior running back Michael Travis ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns, and the defense forced two turnovers — one of which resulted in a touchdown — to propel the Gators to a 27-14 victory. Following the win, Anderson was presented with his first game ball.

"The first win is the first game, and that's important because these guys have been through a lot," said Anderson, who replaced former head coach Jimmy Nichols when he resigned last month. "Momentum means a lot in high school football, and these guys really needed that, especially coming off a seven-game losing streak last season. We needed to silence some doubters."

But the win wasn't pretty.

In a penalty-marred game, the Gators were called for 10 infractions, three of which were personal fouls. Anderson attributed the Gators' sloppy play to the recent turnover in coaching staff.

"We're going to run into some discipline issues," Anderson said. "And that was the single most disappointing thing about the game was the penalties. We've got to work to correct that because that's not how you play. But these guys are competitive and want to be successful."

The Gators' defense held the Rams scoreless in the first half and put the team on the board late in the first quarter when defensive end Niko Ilias returned a fumble 12 yards to the end zone.

Another fumble recovery put the Gators' on the Rams' 12-yard line. From there, senior quarterback Joey Cannon connected with Travis in the end zone to put the Gators up 14-0 at halftime. Cannon finished the game with five completions for 77 yards.

Travis struck again early in the third quarter with a 15-yard run. But Rutherford quarterback Dondrell Harris, who finished with 87 rushing yards, answered after a 53-yard drive that put the Rams on the Gators' 3. From there, Harris ran in the end zone to make the score 20-7 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.

The Gators opened the fourth quarter with a 67-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard plunge by Travis to give Escambia a comfortable 27-7 lead.

"He was very, very impressive tonight," Anderson said of Travis. "He made some tremendous plays and did some tremendous things with the ball. He made numerous big plays and that's what's exciting: when your seniors play their best game, you've got a good chance to win."

Harris scored again for the Rams less than a minute later, but the Gators' stout defense forced a fumble on Rutherford's next possession to ensure the victory.

"I know that these players will compete, and that's a great starting part," Anderson said. "Now, we just need to refine the fundamentals and techniques to go along with that tremendous competitive spirit."
First Quarter
E -- Niko Ilias 12 fumble return (Jonathan Lister kick), 1:36.

Second Quarter
E -- Michael Travis 12 pass from Joey Cannon (Lister kick), :30.

Third Quarter
E -- Michael Travis 15 run (run fail) 9:57.
R -- Dondrell Harris 3 run (Curtis Morgan kick) 6:55.

Fourth Quarter
E -- Michael Travis 1 run (Lister Kick) 9:57.
R -- Harris 7 run (Ervin Broxton kick) 9:23.

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