DUNNELLON — After a grind-it-out first half that saw Vanguard take a 7-0 lead on Dunnellon into the locker room, Knights coach Edwin Farmer said he had a few words for his offense — “coach Farmer’s chewing,” he called it.
They eventually got themselves kickstarted, but on this Friday night, naturally it was a defensive play that propelled VHS to a 35-13 victory.
With DHS having driven from its own 37 to the Vanguard 39 to open the third quarter, sophomore cornerback Tyrin Wilson jumped a bubble screen, pulled in the interception and raced 55 yards untouched to give the Knights a 14-0 advantage.
“Biggest play of the game,” Dunnellon coach Price Harris said. “That kid made a heckuva play.”
From there, VHS (4-0) followed up an interception by Markheem Glover with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Trevonte Rucker to Tony Johnson.
And then, after forcing a punt, Rucker found Travis Isaac for a 51-yard score. It was the second time those two hooked up for a long touchdown in the contest, as Rucker hit Isaac from 35 yards out in the opening minute of the game.
Later, just seconds into the final quarter Missouri commitment Kimo Clarke took a handoff 40 yards for the Knights’ final score.
“In the first half, our offense was as cold as ice,” said Farmer, who played without star wideout Leonard Manuel (expected back next week) and tailback Glover Cook (perhaps will return in two weeks). “Defensively, I thought we played pretty well.”
That last sentence might be an understatement.
The Knights forced Dunnellon (1-3) to punt nine times, grabbed three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
The Tigers’ other three possessions ended with halftime and scoring passes from Javon Lee to Florida State commitment Maurice Goolsby and to Jay Fraziars, respectively. And after his 19-yard jump-ball touchdown catch with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Goolsby was ejected for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the night and will miss next week’s game against Trinity Catholic (4-0).
Those type of mistakes frustrated Harris in last week’s 12-6 overtime loss to St. Petersburg Lakewood, as well as this week.
“We have to decided if we are going to be a football team or (behave poorly) when things go bad,” Harris said.
As for Vanguard, despite being the winners of 13 consecutive regular-season games, Farmer said there are more steps to take.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Farmer said. “We’ll go to the drawing board this week and look for was to improve in all areas.
“I’m excited to find ways to get better.”