FLORENCE — Playing just three offensive downs on their side of their side of the field, the Little River-Academy Bumblebees took a shortcut to get their first District 13-2A, Division I win of the season.
The Bees scored five touchdowns in the first half despite earning less than 200 yards of total offense and beat Florence 41-6 Friday at Stampede Stadium.
Academy (3-4, 1-3 13-2A, Div. I) totaled 195 yards in the first half, but scored on every offensive series by taking advantage of premier field position, taking a 34-6 lead at halftime and rolling to its first district win of the season.
Academy’s average starting field position was the Florence 42-yard line, starting just one drive in the first half on their side of the 50, in the first half and snapped a three-game losing streak with the win.
Florence quarterback Joseph Ramirez was named homecoming king at halftime and scored the Buffaloes’ (1-6, 0-4) only touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter.
Ramirez’s score cut Academy’s lead to 14-6, but the Bees scored 20 unanswered points to take a 34-6 lead at halftime and handed the Buffaloes (1-6, 0-4) their fifth straight loss.
“We’re going to get up Monday morning, we’re going to go to work and we’re going to coach the kids and they’re going to come to practice,” Florence coach Paul Smith said of how the team will rebound.
Ramirez led the Buffaloes (1-6, 0-4) with 76 yards rushing on 19 carries and completed 2-of-3 passes for 46 yards. The senior quarterback ran seven times for 40 yards on Florence’s 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The Buffaloes had just 103 yards of offense at halftime and finished with 176 total.
Academy junior running back Alex McCullough ran for scores of 17, 1 and 5 yards to give the Bees their halftime lead. Cody Martinez scored Academy’s only second-half touchdown — a 16-yard carry — and scored on a 56-yard pass from Malik Jackson in the first half. McCullough ran 14 times for 106 yards and three scores and Jackson completed 5-of-5 passes for 134 yards.
McCullough’s 17-yard touchdown run capped the Bees’ 5-play opening drive. Academy started the drive at the Florence 43-yard line following a 15-yard punt by the Buffaloes.
McCullough then gave the Bees a 14-0 lead with 4:12 left in the first quarter on his 1-yard run. That drive started at the Buffaloes’ 34-yard line following a 31-yard punt and 35-yard return.
Ramirez and the Buffaloes’ offense finally found some rhythm on their next series to cut the lead to 14-6, but Jackson completed the 56-yard touchdown pass to Martinez on a first-and-20 play; McCullough scored his third touchdown of the night on a 5-yard carry that capped a drive that again began on the Florence side of the 50 for a 27-6 lead midway through the second quarter. David Shine scored a minute before halftime giving the Bees their halftime lead on a 5-yard run.
Academy started the second half on its own 42, but the drive abruptly ended when Florence senior Clayton Fullingim recovered McCullough’s fumble at the Florence 37. The Buffaloes could not take advantage of the turnover, though, as their 23-yard field goal try fell short, the ball bouncing off the crossbar to conclude a 16-play drive that stalled at Academy 2 late in the third quarter.
Martinez scored on the next drive for Academy and Florence went three-and-out on its final possession.