Escambia High Gators: Pace Patriots: 31 - Escambia High Gators: 10

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Game Played 10/9/2009 7:30PM  

Pace runs past Escambia
Patriots leap ahead early, win 31-10
Mac Knefely • News Journal Correspondent • October 10, 2009

Pace High seized control in the first half, then cruised to a 31-10 victory against Escambia High.
With future NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, an Escambia graduate, watching the game from the sidelines, the Gators were unable to overcome the Patriots' first half surge. Pace jumped to a 21-0 lead with big plays on defense and special teams and never looked back.

The Patriots controlled the tempo.

After a Pace punt was downed at the Escambia 1, the Gators made it out to the 13, but a fumble was recovered by the Patriots' Ryne Burkett. Pace quickly took advantage as quarterback David Casey ran in from a yard out for the game's first score.

On the ensuing series, the Patriots blocked a punt and recovered at the Gators' 10.

Three players later, Richard Carrion ran a pitch-out into the end zone, and kicker Greg Peranich added the point-after to give Pace a 14-0 edge with 1:05 left in the first quarter.

Despite a 43-yard missed field goal by Pace, the Patriots scored on the very next play on a 27-yard interception return by defensive back Will Pharr to make it a three touchdown lead.

Pace coach Mickey Lindsay fell short of calling it a dominating performance, but it was a win he'll enjoy at least for the weekend.

"I'm just proud of our kids," Lindsay said. "We've had a lot of sickness this week and several injuries."

"We should a lot of heart and a lot of character. I didn't feel like we dominated, I feel like it was a good ballgame. I'm just glad to get a win against a good team."

Despite the loss, Escambia coach Jimmy Nichols was happy with his team's improvement.

"Our kids played hard," Nichols said. "For the first time, I saw a little emotion in getting beat. I hadn't seen that all year."

"But that's a good sign. We played a lot better than we did against Milton. We gave them two (touchdowns) to start the game and, of course, it's hard to play from behind every time."

The Gators also had the added benefit of some words of wisdom from Hall-of-Famer Smith.

"They seemed to enjoy it. And of course, who better to listen to than Emmitt? He's been there and done that, believe me. I was proud for our kids to get to see him."

Escambia went on to mount its best drive of the night beginning with a 26 yard reverse-and-pass from Allen Moore to Dirden, but the Gators had to settle for a 33-yard field goal with 3:54 left in the third.

Pace then slammed the door shut with a 20-play drive behind several five-yard runs by Austin Autrey. Autrey then capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to make it 31-10 with 5:06 remaining in the game.

Pace quarterback Casey said it was a complete team victory.
"We had a great effort tonight," Casey said. "It was a good win. We're 2-0 in the district. Now we press on. We keep fighting, we keep going."

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