Vanguard rolls past North Marion

Gaskins' 3 touchdowns pace Knights past Colts

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Posted October 6, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Vanguard senior quarterback Fred Gaskin ran for two touchdowns and passed for another to lead the Knights to a 47-0 win over North Marion on Friday night.

The convincing victory improved Vanguard to 5-1 on the season and was extra sweet after the Knights lost to the Colts last year.

“This is a rivalry game, one of the biggest in the county and it’s nice to win after losing to North Marion last year,” said Vanguard coach Edwin Farmer. “Fred has excellent composure, is a great leader and it’s good to have him on offense and defense because he’s like having a coach on the field.”

The loss dropped North Marion to 1-6 overall.

Vanguard forced North Marion to punt on its first possession of the game and took over at its 45. Gaskin hit senior wide receiver Jermiah Ewing for a 26-yard gain and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Colts moved the ball inside the Colts’ 10.

Gaskin ran for a 5-yard gain and followed excellent blocking on a 4-yard scoring scamper. The extra point by sophomore Jaxson Lee gave the Knights a 7-0 lead.

North Marion picked up a first down on its next possession as sophomore quarterback Isaac Smith connected with wide receiver Kel’veyon Johnson for a 10-yard gain to the Colts 31.

The drive stalled and a short punt gave Vanguard excellent field position at its 48. Gaskin ran for a short gain, Tay’juan Farmer picked up 17 yards on a sweep and Gaskin found senior wide receiver Dallen Ponder open on a slant pass over the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike. The extra point was missed to leave the Class 3S Knights with a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.

North Marion put together a solid drive as Smith completed several passes to move the ball to the Vanguard 45. But a sack ended the threat, and the Class 2S Colts were forced to punt.

Vanguard marched methodically down the field as Gaskin, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 109 yards, hit wide receiver Cam’ron King down the left sideline for a 26-yard completion. Senior Mitchell Brown broke several tackles on his way to a 45-yard touchdown run. The point after was no good and the Knights led 19-0 early in the second period.

North Marion had trouble establishing the run and Smith, who was 8 of 22 passing for 73 yards, was forced to throw under a lot of duress. The Colts fumbled the ball and Vanguard recovered at its 45.

Backup quarterback Matt Dial came in to play and Gaskin switched to running back and promptly ripped off a 23-yard gain. Gaskin, who ran the ball 11 times for 67 yards, capped the drive with a 3-yard scoring jaunt. Dial passed to Jamil Watkins for the 2-point conversion to give the Knights a commanding 27-0 lead at the half.

Vanguard opened the second half with an 11-play, 63-yard drive. Dial led the march and scored on a 6-yard run to make it 33-0.

North Marion moved the ball past midfield but an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive.

Vanguard substituted liberally in the second half and Dial hit Ewing for a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it 40-0 late in the third period. A running clock was used for the remainder of the game.

Dial ran for another score for the final margin of victory.

“The defense played well and that’s eight quarters of not allowing a point,” coach Farmer said. “We have to keep finding ways to get better because we have some big games coming up.

Vanguard is back in action on Thursday night with an away district game at Tavares.

“If we win that game we’re district champs, so we’ve got to be focused and ready to go,” coach Farmer said.

North Marion is at West Port on Friday night.

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