By William Smith
Special to Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Aucilla Christian Academy football team suffered a stinging defeat Friday evening against bitter rival Robert F. Munroe by a score of 32-20, in what proved to be a fiercely fought battle of attrition that saw numerous lead changes and spectacular plays for both squads.
It is an annual matchup of nearly mirror-image schools that have been insufferable rivals for decades, culminating each year in a physical battle with 365 days worth of bragging rights on the line.
This year was no different, as Aucilla entered the contest riding a three game winning streak made possible by a greedy defensive unit that made its living by forcing turnovers and pressuring the quarterback, as well as a strong running attack that slowly chipped away at an opponent’s morale.
Neither calling card was present in the desperately desired match- up against the Bobcats of Munroe. The Warriors rushed for a total of 33 yards and fumbled twice, as well as displaying uncharacteristically poor defense that failed to hold perimeter gap integrity and suffered costly breakdowns in coverage.
This collapse in what has been a solid defensive unit throughout the season led to the second highest point total scored against the Warriors this year, and left a bitter taste in the mouths of Aucilla defenders and coaches.
Head coach Colby Roberts summed up his team’s performance by saying, “The defense was not the dominant force that we have seen in the past. We forgot the fundamentals of football that have defined our success this far into the season, and that is a recipe for disaster. But, this was not only the defense’s fault.
The offense committed way too many turn- overs and costly penalties that really kept us from winning.”
Even though the offense made a common practice of halting itself on several crucial drives throughout the game by committing devastating turnovers and penalties, the outcome of the contest was intensely close until midway through the fourth quarter. A promising Aucilla drive destined to lock the score at 26-26, was cut short by an interception that led to an emotionally deflating scoring drive by Munroe, which bled precious time from the clock and sealed the score at 32-20.
Senior quarterback Trent Roberts played well, despite the mistakes of the offense, throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for a third. Junior wide receiver Jared Jackson continued to be Roberts’ favorite target, hauling in two brilliant breakaway catches for 153 yards and two scores.
The duo has been the Warrior’s most potent and electrifying connection throughout the season and served as the brightest points for an otherwise mistake-prone Aucilla offense which could only muster 254 total yards.
Despite the struggles of the Warrior defense overall, there were moments when the talented and opportunistic group showed flashes of the power that had held the previous three opponents to a total of 25 points. The unit forced three important turnovers that gained valuable momentum, including a pair of interceptions by junior Jared Jackson and senior Tyler Jackson, and a forced fumble that was recovered by Roberts.
Aucilla will now look to bounce back against conference opponent Seacoast Christian (0-5), who has struggled so far this season and has been outscored by a margin of 215-26.
The game will be Aucilla’s homecoming, so look for a determined Warrior squad which will seek to recover the swagger that was lost in its defeat against the Bobcats of Munroe.
The game will begin at 7:00 Friday evening following a week-long celebration that includes the annual Fall Festival on the afternoon prior to the contest.