Ye Olde Wash Boiler is headed back to Escambia High School once again.
The Gators’ seniors made it a four-year sweep in their prep careers with a 31-16 road win Friday night over rival Pensacola High.
“That’s a special game,” Escambia head coach Mike Davis said. “They’re probably one of few (classes) who’ve had the wash tub four years in a row.”
The Gators made it clear from the first snap they didn’t plan on giving away the rivalry trophy.
Ray Samuel broke a 45-yard run on the first play of the game before senior quarterback Z’Khari Blocker hit Steven McGhee on a 15-yard touchdown pass shortly after.
Penalties snuffed out several Escambia drives in the first half, but the Gator defense never let Ashton Stephens and PHS get rolling.
Escambia defensive back Chris McCray picked Stephens off twice on balls thrown down the field.
“I was just playing my assignments,” McCray said. “When I saw the ball in the air I went up and made plays.”
When PHS did get drives moving, they struggled to punch it in the end zone.
The Escambia defense made two goal-line stands to preserve the Gators’ lead, the last of which came in the fourth quarter after PHS returned a botched punt snap inside the 5-yard line and was trying to cut the deficit to one score.
Two plays later, Blocker shed a Pensacola defender and sprinted 99 yards for a touchdown that gave Escambia an insurmountable 31-8 lead.
“When I took it, I saw the opening so I just took off with it,” Blocker said.
While Blocker made the decisive score, he received plenty of help from Steven and Martin McGhee, who combined for three touchdowns.
The win adds extra steam to Escambia’s late-season surge.
After a 1-5 start, the Gators have now won four of their last five, including an undefeated run through District 1-6A.
It couldn’t come at a better time for Davis’ bunch, who will host a rematch with Navarre next Friday in the first round of the state playoffs. Navarre won the earlier meeting 17-13.
“Everybody is on the right page right now, but it’s just the little things that we gotta get better at,” Blocker said. “We had a lot of penalties tonight. If we can eliminate those (penalties), because they’re holding us back.”
It was a relatively comfortable effort that gave Escambia its fourth straight rivalry win, but Davis said there’s plenty for his squad to work on before the Raiders come to town again next week.
“We just have to clean up some stuff,” Davis said. “That’s the biggest thing. Too many penalties.”
Week 11 scores
Gulf Breeze 37, Crestview 13
Navarre 42, Niceville 28
Pace 41, Catholic 7
South Walton 56, Jay 27
Escambia 31, PHS 16
West Florida 31, Washington 12
Trinity Christian Academy 45, Pine Forest 22
Milton 37, Arnold 26