Yulee’s Derrick Henry has been carrying the Hornets all season. This time, he needed some help from his friends.
Henry was held to a season-low 189 yards on 46 carries, but took advantage of solid defense and scored the winner as the host Hornets (9-3) held off a stiff challenge from East Gadsden (8-3) 16-13 to capture the Region 1-4A final.
Yulee coach Bobby Ramsay was thrilled with his team’s effort.
“These guys have worked so hard and they’ve earned this reward,” he said. “I hope everybody in the county’s proud of them.”
The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, as a 38-yard run by Jarrell Reynolds of the Jaguars was countered by a rare throwing touchdown for Henry, who hit Tristyn Bennett with a 30-yard pass that gave the Hornets the lead with the successful extra point.
The Hornets’ rushing attack consumed the clock, holding the ball for 17:15 of the 24-minute first half. The climax was a 20-play, 66-yard drive that ran for nearly 11 minutes and ended with a 30-yard field goal by sophomore Bradley Thornton.
The interior of the East Gadsden defensive line, led by 320-pound nose guard Samuel Richardson, effectively squelched the Hornets’ inside rushes and forced Henry to go outside. They also kept Henry, the nation’s all-time leading rusher, from gaining more than 27 yards on any carry.
East Gadsden seized the lead in the third when Jaleell Reynolds caught a juggling 6-yard grab at the corner of the end zone, making the score 16-13.