Bulloch Academy head coach Steve Pennington was worried Savannah Country Day may be wanting a little payback from the Gators' 32-2 win over the Hornets in Statesboro last year. He was right to be concerned as the Hornets kicked the John Mohring era with an impressive 34-14 win over the Gators Friday in Savannah.
Mohring was an All-American linebacker at Georgia Southern and his team played a lot like their coach did in college showing speed and strength throughout the game. A much more athletic and stronger team than the Gators saw last year, the Hornets jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead and led by as much as 34-7 until a late Rodney Hill touchdown provided the final points of the night.
“We knew they were going to be a physical team and it was a physical ballgame,” said Pennington. “Their line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball really excelled and they have some playmakers as well. I'm proud of how our team battled with a lot of new guys out there tonight.”
The trouble for the Gators started early as Keith James took the opening kickoff and went 85-yards streaking down the Gator sidelines to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead. The Gator offense stalled and then Country Day quarterback Barry Kleinpeter went to work capping a nine-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Odom to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Gators would cut the lead in half on the very next play as on the ensuing kickoff a squib kick rolled to the 25-yarrd line before Rodney Hill scooped it up and was off to the races outrunning the Hornets for a 75-yard score and cutting the lead to 14-7.
The Hornets responded quickly as Kleinpeter threw a pass to Odom in the flat and he put a couple of nice moves in the open field as he went 54-yards for the score to extend the Hornet lead to 21-7.
That score would hold up through halftime and in fact all the way into the fourth quarter as the Gator defense shut the Hornets down for a while.
“We had a stretch where our defense stopped them on four straight series,” said Pennington. “Fatigue may have played a factor tonight as we had a lot of guys going both ways. We learned some things about our team, and we will get back to trying to fix a few things that we saw out there tonight and try and take a step forward next week.”
Bulloch Academy had a great chance to cut the lead to seven early in the third as Rodney Hill took off up field on a 60-yard run, but Hill looking back over his shoulder was caught at the 10-yard line by Odom. The Gators then fumbled inside the five on third and goal and the Hornets recovered.
Country Day put things away in the fourth quarter with an impressive 27-yard touchdown run by Kleinpeter and a 20-yard touchdown by Michael Grandy.
The Gators were able to score the final points of the game as with just over four minutes left in the game quarterback Brennan Perosa hit Hill in the flat and Hill slipped a tackle and went 65-yards for the touchdown and final score of 34-14.
Next up for the Gators things don’t get any easier as they host Calvary Day Friday at 7:30 at Gator Alley.