Escambia High Gators: Pace @ EHS

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  Escambia High Gators vs 28     Stats
  Pace Patriots 23      
Game Played 9/19/2008 7:00PM  

Richardson's 3 TDs pace Gators in win
091808 01
Pace turnovers lift Escambia
Article By Jeff Haws • jhaws@pnj.com September 20, 2008
This wasn't Trent Richardson's night. It was Escambia's.
The Gators' defense, much maligned since a season-opening loss to Tate, forced three key Pace turnovers and held the Patriots' offense to their lowest point total in nearly a year.
Richardson's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter may have been the winning score in Escambia's 28-23 upset of Class 4A No. 9 Pace, and his 131 yards and two touchdowns on the ground might have been the difference.
But it wasn't the whole story.
On this night, the story was quarterback Anthony Porterfield, completing eight of his final nine passes for 74 yards and one crucial game-tying touchdown just before halftime.
The story was Quay Dirden, a junior wideout who sat out the Tate game with strep throat but was open the entire game, catching seven balls for 63 yards and a score.
And the story was the aforementioned defense, which intercepted the normally mistake-proof Aaron Munoz twice, the final one returned 68 yards by Marheem Smith to set up the fourth-quarter score that put the game out of reach.
The Gators (2-1) have already matched last year's win total and have now vanquished one of the area's preeminent programs. They did so not with one remarkable player but with a series of performances by a host of them.
Last year, Pace won this game 54-14. Revenge or not, the Gators got what they were looking for.
"I think we've arrived; our program has closed the gap tremendously since last year," Escambia coach Jimmy Nichols said. "For so long, it's been Pace, Pine Forest and Pensacola High. We played Pensacola High toe to toe in (preseason scrimmage). Now, we beat Pace. So I think we're moving up that stick pretty fast."
Much of the thanks for that does go to Richardson. If the Patriots' game plan was to string together long, time-consuming drives, eat up clock and keep the heralded senior running back on the sideline, they executed it beautifully. Richardson only had 12 carries in the second half, four of which came while trying to run out the clock.
What Pace learned, though, is that's not necessarily enough against this year's version of the Gators. And the Pats also learned you certainly can't kick the ball to him.
Pace had just regained the lead 16-14 after converting an Escambia fumble on a kickoff return into a field goal with 9:35 left. Instead of kicking it short again, though, the Pats kicked the ball deep, straight into the hands of Richardson, who streaked 90 yards down the sideline to put Escambia back in front for good.
When the ball came flying toward him, Richardson was just as surprised as everyone else. And he wasn't about to let the opportunity slip by.
"I didn't think they'd kick to me at all, so I knew when I got the ball I had to do something, make something happen," Richardson said. "I got a little block and then I got on the sideline. I just made a little quick move, got to the outside and got what I could get."
It was the best example of what Nichols knew all along. "You can't put the ball in Trent's hands in any way, shape, form or fashion," Nichols said. "I'm telling you, because more times than not, you'll pay for it." Pace did, and it wasn't just Richardson doing the work. The Patriots just couldn't find a way to stop both Richardson, Porterfield and Dirden. Nor could they find a way to keep the ball out of the Escambia defense's hands. Richardson is such a big part of the team that he's always going to factor into the Gators' fortunes. But for at least one game, it wasn't all about him. And Escambia is a far better team for it.
Escambia 28, Pace 23, Final
First Quarter
Pace—Tyler Hunt 1 run (Greg Peranich kick) 6:57
Second Quarter
Escambia—Quay Dirden 3 pass from Anthony Porterfield (Tim Brown kick) 00:9.5
Third Quarter
E—Trent Richardson 3 run (Brown kick) 6:47 3rd
P—Hunt 4 run (kick failed) 0:51.2
Fourth Quarter
P—Peranich 18 FG 9:35
E—Richardson 90 kickoff return (Brown kick)
E—Richardson 1 run (Brown kick) 4:43
P—Tyler Bousson 6 pass from Aaron Munoz (Peranich kick)
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Score
Escambia

0

7

7

14

28

Pace

7

0

6

10

23