Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Strong Gainesville Team Edges Clay

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Strong Gainesville Team Edges Clay

Article excerpt

Byline: BRENT BEAIRD

After being behind by two touchdowns twice in the second half, Clay's Blue Devils still had a chance with less than four minutes remaining to win their season opener against Class 5A Gainesville.

Trailing 27-20 at their own 20-yard line, the Blue Devils clawed their way to the Gainesville 32, but a sack and an untimely penalty proved too much to overcome. As a last-gasp, fourth-and-22 pass fell short, so did the Blue Devils' hopes.

Clay coach James Reape said the Hurricanes simply made more plays than his team.

"They are a 5A school, and they hit the long pass and we drove the ball," Reape said. "We didn't convert our turnovers into points. I'm so proud of those kids. I feel for them. We have to get them over the hump. They [the Hurricanes] are a big, strong, powerful football team."

The Blue Devils will try to notch their first win Friday night as they travel to county foe Fleming Island (1-0), who won at Pedro Menendez 44-0.

First-year Clay quarterback Stephen Hearons turned in a solid 19-of-32 effort for 155 yards, despite several drops by his receivers.

Running back Malcolm Francis led the Clay ground attack with 136 yards on 25 carries. Receiver Lyndon Dunham had eight catches for 55 yards, and Cody Clark caught two for 54 yards as the Blue Devil offense amassed 316 total yards.

Clay struck first with 7:59 left in the first half as Francis crossed the goal line on a 1-yard plunge. But Gainesville answered quickly as tailback Chris Batie, who ran 10 times for 155 yards, took off on an 83-yard touchdown run.

Gainesville took the lead for good early in the second half as Brandon Blundell caught a 42-yard scoring pass from Trevor Wooden. The Hurricanes then recovered a fumble on Clay's next drive and quickly converted the turnover into points on a 19-yard Batie touchdown run to make it 20-7 with 6:52 left in the third quarter. …

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