Back-to-back comebacks would only result in consecutive one-point losses for Eastside High as the Rams suffered a 45-44 defeat at the hands of Orlando Bishop Moore on last Thursday night at Citizens Field.
“It was a good football game. It’s hard to prepare for a team like that. We don’t see that, ever,” said Eastside coach Cedderick Daniels. “It’s hard to play against that.”
The Rams will continue searching for their first win when they play P.K. Yonge on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Citizens Field.
The visiting Hornets jumped out to an early 28-13 lead, thanks in part to three rushing touchdowns from junior running back Malachi Rennie. The speedy back would eclipse the century mark in the first half as Bishop Moore took a two-score lead into halftime.
“It was a great effort. We played really, really hard, as you can see. That was one of the loudest games I’ve ever coached in, and some of the things that happened in the game I can’t believe happened,” said Hornets coach Matt Hedrick. “We found a way to win, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
But with senior quarterback Anthony Richardson leading the offensive attack, the Rams quickly turned a double-digit deficit into their first lead of the night. After tossing a 26-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half, the University of Florida commit found Arnold Strachan wide open in the middle of the field on the Rams’ first possession of the third quarter, and the sophomore wide receiver darted 37 yards up the field to open the second-half scoring and cut the Hornets lead to just two points.
Over the ensuing 20 minutes of action, the lead would flip-flop twice as neither team could pull ahead for a considerable period. Draco James’ 56-yard fumble recovery gave the Rams their first lead of the night, only for Stephen Martin to haul in his second touchdown of the night — this one a 86-yard heave from quarterback Luke Hedrick — just two plays later to pull the Hornets back in front.
Yet Richardson and the Rams weren’t going away without a fight. The 6-foot-4 signal caller tossed his fourth touchdown pass, a 23-yard dart to Carlteon Brooks, at the close of the third quarter, only to see Hornets running back Malachi Rennie punch in his fourth rushing touchdown of the night.
“He’s huge. Malachi’s just a good football player, and he’s tough and physical. He’s undersized, but he just gets after it,” Hedrick said. “He was huge for us tonight.”
Richardson would respond with a one-yard rushing touchdown of his own, giving him his sixth score for the Rams. He would finish the game with more than 400 offensive yards, including four passing touchdowns, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Rams to secure their first victory of the season.
Led by Rennie, the Hornets pounded the run for the final minutes before setting up Kyle Garzon’s decisive 25-yard field goal. The Rams had an opportunity to win the game in the waning seconds before the final drive fizzled out following a late holding penalty — one of several miscues on the night for the Rams.
“We made adjustments in the second half. I felt like we played a better football game in the second half,” Daniels said. “Penalties hurt us.”
“I just met with the seniors, and the seniors are in control of this team,” Daniels said. “As long as they understand nothing happens, like, you lose a football game, you lost to the best team on your schedule, we’ll be back next season.
“We’re 0-2. We’ve been 0-2 before and finished 7-2. We’ve just got to finish.”