- Gainesville, FL. Written By: Wes Trotta
Thursday night’s game between the Bishop Moore Hornets and the Eastside Rams was a wild back and forth battle that ultimately left the Hornets leaving Citizens Field with a 45-44 win over the Rams.
Head coach for the Hornets, Matt Hedrick, came into this game with one plan. Run the ball. Malachi Rennie carried out Hedrick’s plan, successfully, and all night. Rennie got the Hornets up early on a run to the outside where he flashed his speed to the edge and his power to run through a defender at the pylon.
Up seven early, Hedrick knew his team’s toughest task was still to come. Stopping the Rams star quarterback, Anthony Richardson, is a pipe dream for most teams. But Hedrick at least hoped to slow him down.
“As good as he was,” Hedrick’s said, “we didn’t realize we would never be able to tackle him the entire game.”
Richardson, who stands at 6-4, was a nightmare to bring down. He consistently extended plays and completed huge strikes that often-had receiver Quan Lee on the other end. When the receivers were not an option, Richardson would turn into a running back.
The best way to stop Richardson was to keep him off the field. That explains why Rennie’s number was called upon so frequently. The Hornets scored their second touchdown from Rennie. The run was nearly identical to his first.
Moments before that touchdown, Dylan Brazil, a 5-8 receiver, got a step on the Rams defender, extended out his arm and cradled in a pass while failing to the ground in the back corner of the end zone. The referees called it incomplete pass, but Rennie did not agree with them.
“We know he was in,” He said.
Rennie had high praise for Brazil, who constantly made tough catches all over the field, despite his size.
“Fantastic athlete, one of the best in the area,” Rennie said. “He's gonna catch everything no matter what the situation is.”
After the catch is made, is when Brazil really stands out. His stop-and-go speed was too much for the Rams defense.
Once the offenses got rolling, it became clear that stopping one another was not an option. However, Hedrick’s defense did step up in containing the Rams offense. Looking to head into halftime with 28-13 point lead, Richardson had something else in mind.
Six seconds left in the half. Richardson took the snap and rolled to his right, threw a defender to the dirt and managed to find Quan Lee in the back of the end zone. It was a miraculous play that required creativity and athleticism, and resulted in the Rams pulling within nine.
The second half was when chaos ensued, starting with a successful onside kick by the Hornets.
“We noticed the middle guy was backing up a lot,” Hedrick said, “so we liked the middle onside coming into the game and kind of planned on using it.”
It was the start of an unpredictable second half that resulted in a number of huge plays and lead changes.
During the second half, the Hornets made a switch at quarterback. Luke Hedrick relieved Bryce McGill after he struggled to run the offense. One thing both quarterbacks were able to do? Find receiver Stephan Martin.
Martin, who had two touchdown catches said, “I trust both my quarterbacks.” Standing at 6-5, it’s understandable why they trust him.
Late in the fourth with both teams eyeing their first win, Rennie’s number was called upon one last time. Punching it in on the goalline for his fourth score gave the rams a late lead.
Once again, Richardson responded, by taking it in himself on a run that showed off his speed and a mean stiff arm. This put the Rams up, but again, it did not last.
The following kickoff was filled with missed tackles that finally ended with the Hornets near the goal line. They kicked field goal and the game ended with that score, 45-44.
Although they got the win, Hedrick knows it shouldn’t have been close. “You look at it and you feel like physically, we probably should have won the game 45 to nothing."
Players of the Game:
Malachi Rennie, Hornets: 4 rushing touchdowns.
Anthony Richardson, Rams: 4 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing.