Bulloch Academy knew they faced a herculean task Friday night as they lined up against John Millage Academy. The Trojans came in winners of 27 straight, including back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons and had outscored their opponents 119-25 through three games this season.
The Gators put up a valiant effort but in the end John Millage was just too much as a fourth-quarter surge sealed the loss for the Gators, 31-3.
The loss drops the Gators to 0-4 on the season while the Trojans move to 4-0.
“I saw a team that has done what we’ve done the first three games of the season. We fought our rear ends off and gave ourselves some opportunities,” BA Head Coach Steve Pennington said following the game. “
After the Trojans methodically marched 76 yards on 12 plays to score on the game’s opening possession, the Bulloch Academy looked like they were going to answer. The Gators drove to the JMA 28 on a 10-play drive, but a fumbled snap saw the Trojans able to jump on it, ending the Gators’ best drive of the first half.
John Millage wasted little time once they took possession. They went 67 yards on 7 plays, culminating with a 5-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Trojans added a field goal as the first half clock expired to give JMA a 17-0 halftime lead.
While the Trojans scored on each of their three first-half possessions, the Gators struggled to move the ball offensively outside of their opening drive. They managed 50 yards in the first half, including 20 yards receiving from Wesley Joyce.
Florida State signee Rodney Hill wasn’t able to find any open space as the Trojan defense kept a close eye on him, often double-teaming him on passing routes and having linebackers spying him in the backfield. On the two plays he was able to break off a big gain, penalties by the Gators negated the play.
“They didn’t sit back. They brought a lot of pressure,” Pennington said.
Bulloch Academy’s fortunes looked like it might change midway through the third quarter. The Gators were able to force a fumble and then drove 40 yards on 13 plays, including a fourth down conversion and a key third down conversion to keep the drive alive.
However, BA’s drive stalled at the 10 and senior kicker Johnnie Hood nailed a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-3.
The Gators would get no closer as the JMA defense shut down the BA offense the rest of the night while the Trojans added two fourth quarter touchdowns to account for the final score.
“They’ve got one super defense,” Pennington said. “They’re very active and very aggressive and we tried to do some things to counteract that aggressiveness.”
Sophomore quarterback Brennan Perossa led the Gators offensively with 55 yards on the ground and another 50 through the air. Perossa did miss some time early in the game with an apparent leg injury, leading to Joyce taking some snaps at quarterback.
“I thought in the first half we kept our poise,” Pennington said. “We lost our quarterback and had a wide receiver come in and moved the ball down the field. Those are the kinds of things where we’re going to move forward and find something positive to move forward.”
The Gators have an off week upcoming and Pennington said it will be an opportunity for his team to rest and heal.
“We’ve played four tremendously physical football games and so we need a week to catch our breath,” he said.
“John Millage certainly showed why they are where they are,” Pennington said. “Playing teams like that is a great measuring stick to show us how far we have to go to get to where we want to be.”
The Gators will take a week off before returning to action at home against Memorial Day on Oct. 1.