Oakleaf QB Walter Simmons III drops back for a pass during the Knights' 35-14 win over Buchholz at Citizens Field in Gainesville on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. [PHOTO: Joshua Wilson/FloridaHSFootball.com]

In the era of COVID-19, don’t expect anything to go normal.

Normal is something that is lost even in the game of football.

For the Oakleaf Knights, with their three buses of players arriving late to Gainesville on Friday night didn’t stop them from picking up the first win of the already altered 2020 season schedule, defeating the Buchholz Bobcats, 35-14 at Citizens Field.

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BIG PLAYS… EARLY

The first quarter got off to a fast start when Buchholz quickly marched down the field thanks to a Jack Hevesy 50-yard pass to Quan Lee on the first play of the game that would eventually set up Hevesy’s one-yard touchdown run on a gutsy fourth-down call from the one to grab an early 7-0 lead on the visiting Knights with 9:46 to go in the first.

But Oakleaf was ready to answer… fast.

The Knights’ All-State quarterback in Walter Simmons III took a 32-yard keep two plays later to knot things all up at 7-7 with 9:46 in the first, which would be the start of a solid night for the East Carolina 2021 commit.

After a punt by the Bobcats on their next drive, the Knights fought quickly again to take the lead on a Simmons pass to Terrance Anthony, the first of the duo’s connections in the end zone of the night.

Oakleaf WR Terrance Anthony after his first of two touchdown receptions in the Knights’ 35-14 win over Buchholz in Gainesville on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. [PHOTO: Joshua Wilson/FloridaHSFootball.com]
PICK SIX ALLEY

The first of two pick-sixes on the night between both teams took place in the first quarter when Buchholz linebacker Eric Alvarez picked off Simmons’ pass at the Oakleaf 48 returning it to the endzone for six to tie the game up 14-14 with 4:07 left in the first quarter.

The second of the pick-sixes of the night came in the third quarter when Oakleaf’s Trey Thomas picked off a Hevesy pass around the Buchholz 40 taking it in untouched to put the Knights up 21-14 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.

Thomas’ pick-six was also his second interception of the night after grabbing his first interception of the night during what was mostly an uneventful second quarter filled with punts.

BUCHHOLZ SHUT OUT IN THE SECOND HALF

On top of Thomas’ pick-six in the third quarter, the Knights picked up two more scores during the third and fourth quarters. That was all the while the Knights worked to keep Buchholz off the scoreboard in the second half thanks to their stingy defense.

The second to final touchdown came on another five-yard pass from Simmons to Anthony to cap off the duo’s scoring for the night with 3:10 left to go in the third quarter.

The scoring for Oakleaf would be capped of with a 52-yard touchdown run from running back Mike Mitchell with 2:50 left to go in the game that would give Oakleaf a 35-14 advantage.

Mike Mitchell on his way to the end zone for Oakleaf in during the Knights’ 35-14 win over Buchholz in Gainesville on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

And while Buchholz tried to make some comebacks of their own, their final two possessions of the game fell short after getting into the red zone and coming up short both times as the Knights’ defense keyed in on the Bobcats’ every effort to try to keep the game in close range.

QUOTABLE

“We felt comfortable with our plan. We needed to execute better. We calmed down at halftime and got that taken care, Oakleaf head coach Frank Garis said after the win.

“Our seniors, two of the guys [Simmons and Thomas] are our captains. They are on our leadership council. They are great program guys. They buy into what we are selling, they buy into what the program is about. They radiate it to the young players, which is what we really, really appreciate,” Garis said.

WHAT’S NEXT

Oakleaf (1-0) travels to Lowndes next Friday night in Valdosta, Ga. That game will pit the Knights against one of the Top 25 teams in the nation with an 8 p.m. ET kickoff. Buchholz (0-1) currently has next week off at the present moment and will the away team against Eastside on Sept. 25 at Citizens Field