FLORENCE — Coach Jamey DuBose said he had three objectives coming into Friday’s contest against James Clemens: First and foremost, win the critical Class 6A, Region 8 game. Check, as the Falcons passing game was clicking early, and Florence’s reserves hung on for a 42-30 victory over a plucky first-year Jets team.
Objective two: Play as many younger players as possible to gain valuable experience. Again, put a checkmark by this goal, as the Falcons emptied the bench — “We played everyone but the water boy,” DuBose quipped — starting midway through the second quarter. All told, four players attempted at least one pass, 12 players had at least one carry and seven players caught at least one pass.
And lastly, DuBose wanted to avoid injuries heading into a next week’s region showdown against Hazel Green. Florence (3-3, 3-1) managed to escape Clemens without any injuries, so all and all, it was a good night, though the final score might have been a little deceiving.
“We got a win — a region win — and that is the most important thing,” DuBose said. “We played a lot of kids tonight. And give James Clemens their due; that’s a first-year team playing in 6A, and they are 0-6, but their kids played hard all night.”
The Falcons jumped out to an early 21-0 lead behind a dominant performance by quarterback Kendrick Doss, who threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in the opening quarter. Doss played only the opening drive of the second half after the Falcons took command of the game but still finished the night with strong numbers, passing 10-of-14 for 194 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 70 yards and a TD.
Florence scored on the game’s opening drive on a 52-yard strike from Doss to a
wide-open Isaac Dillard to take a 7-0 lead. After a three-and-out by Clemens, Florence struck again, this time on an 11-yard TD strike from Doss to William Barnett, giving the Falcons a 14-0 lead with 6:46 to play in the first.
Doss wasn’t finished yet, as he avoided what almost was a coverage sack into a scramble that quickly turned into an electrifying 51-yard TD dash through the heart of the Jets defense.
Up 21-0, the substitutions started for Florence. Backup quarterback Dillon Frederick rushed for an 18-yard TD on fourth down with just seconds to play in the first half, giving the Falcons a 28-0 halftime lead.
At halftime, the Falcons had 350 yards of total offense, while the Jets had zero net offense.
Clemens roared back to open the third, marching straight down the first for their first meaningful drive of the game and cut the lead to 28-7.
Doss returned long enough to toss a 35-yard touchdown pass to Dillard, and the Falcons subs would take it from there. Florence’s last score of the night came on a 70-yard kickoff return for a TD by Roland Adams.
Clemens’ freshman quarterback Heath Burchfiend turned in a gritty performance, passing for two second half touchdowns to Josh Garth, while the other Jets touchdown came on a 66-yard interception return by Jordan Lowe.