Since the season began, Escambia has had trouble finishing drives, finishing games. And Friday, as Catholic came from behind to score a go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes to go, it appeared the Gators would suffer a similar fate.
Senior quarterback Z’khari Blocker, though, wasn’t about to let it happen again.
“We come out real strong or either real weak, we just never finish,” Blocker said. “I just told them, ‘Stick with me.’ Just stick with me, that’s it.”
As the Gators did just that, Blocker stuck to his word, orchestrating a game-winning drive while the clock dwindled, and his 1-yard touchdown with 11.6 seconds to go delivered the 36-32 win to Escambia, its first of the season.
Catholic goes 3 and out on its first drive of the second half, but Escambia fumbles on its first play from scrimmage to hand it right back.— Kelly Parsons (@_kellyparsons) September 10, 2016
“We knew we had a chance,” Escambia coach Mike Davis said. “As long as we had the ball and some time on the clock, it was all about execution.”
But before the break, the Gators struggled with that.
Catholic dominated the first half, and quarterback Garrett Foley threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns to help give the Crusaders a 20-13 lead heading into halftime.
After the break, the Gator (1-2) defense adjusted. Catholic recovered a pair of Escambia fumbles, but settled for 35-yard field goes from Bryce Horton after both.
Blocker kept the game from getting out of hand in the third quarter with a 40-yard touchdown run. In the fourth, the Crusaders (0-3) punted for just the second time in the game, only to have it returned 65 yards by Martin McGhee for a score that put Escambia on top.
“My coaches kept saying I had to make a big play. They were depending on me,” McGhee said about his long run. “I just saw the crease, and I just hit it.”
But the game was far from over.
Escambia gives Catholic a 1st on a personal foul, then Foley hits Casey Warford with a 34-yd, go-ahead TD. Catholic leads 32-29, 1:24 to go.— Kelly Parsons (@_kellyparsons) September 10, 2016
Foley got his stride back in the final minutes and marched the Crusaders down the field, hitting Casey Warford with a 34-yard touchdown that gave Catholic a three-point lead.
Only this time, finally, Blocker had the last word.
“We come drive for drive, and we never finish,” Blocker said. “That was our whole mindset coming into this game.”