Those who judged the Escambia Gators (3-5) by their record going into Friday night’s game were in for a rude awakening, as Tate hosted Escambia for top spot in District 1-6A.
Escambia took the lead in the first quarter and never looked back, posting a 37-27 win over the Aggies to remain undefeated in district play — the only record that matters.
The Gators excelled in what they do best, while bottling up the Tate Aggies biggest strength – rushing.
Queven Dosunmu raced for three touchdowns, while Shountrell Hills (2 sacks) and Escambia’s defense pressured and contained the area’s most dangerous quarterback Jake Henry.
“We got some crap for our record, but then we realized that every week we are playing a state championship contender or a district champ,” Hills said. “Every team we play is disciplined, fast and strong. It pays off when we play district games.”
After their rigorous schedule, the Gators will finally take their bye in Week 9.
“It feels like we are going to Disney World,” Hills said. “It gives us time to freshen up on our technique and go over things we didn’t execute in this game (vs. Tate) – we know teams will be watching film.”
The Gators took a 24-0 lead into halftime, courtesy of two Dosunmu rushing scores (covering 80 and 68 yards), a Rob Olsen field goal and a 52-yard pass from Z’Khari Blocker to Ray Samuel.
“Ain’t too much you can say … we came out and played hard,” said Dosunmu, in his first year as a varsity player. “Our O-Line kept squeezing down for us, we just kept busting through and cutting up.
“After the first touchdown, I felt like a champion.”
It wasn’t an easy win for the Gators, as Tate cut it to a 10-point lead (24-14) entering the fourth quarter after rushing TDs from Jake Henry and Corey Moorer.
But the Gators found breathing room and kept pouring it on, as Blocker found Ladarius Harris for a 29-yard passing TD.
Shemani Jones cut the lead back down to 10 points two minutes (4:53 in regulation) later with a six-yard TD run, but Tate failed to recover the onside kick.
After Escambia converted on fourth and four, with three minutes to play, the Gators ultimately clinched the game and the top spot in 1-6A.
“Our guys are excited, they did just what we thought we could do,” Escambia coach Mike Davis said. “It’s what we’ve been practicing for all year. We hoped our tough schedule would help us in games likes this.”
District 1-6A isn’t sowed up yet, though, as Escambia will close out against Washington in two weeks. Tate and Pine Forest will square off in the other District 1-6A contest that night.