PENSACOLA — Tim Hatten stood with his hands on his hips. His Bulldog players surrounded him, each on a knee. Some looked to the ground. Other seemed not to look anywhere particular at all.
Sweat and frustration stained each of their faces.
For just the second time in Hatten’s seven-season tenure, the Crestview football team was shut out on Friday night. An Escambia squad that’s made playoff trips in three straight seasons put the Dawgs out to pasture 32-0.
The last time Crestview was shut out — a 21-0 loss to Navarre on Sept. 19, 2014 — it finished the year just 3-7.
“Now we get to find out who we really are,” Hatten told his team.
The rare showing started innocuously enough. The Gators (2-0) marched down the field in just four plays, senior quarterback AV Smith capping the drive with a 27-yard scoring strike, before the Bulldogs (1-1) settled in to hold Escambia scoreless for the rest of the half.
Crestview’s offense, however, just couldn’t find that same groove. Its first drive ended in a punt. So did its second, third and fourth, the offense jogging off the field each time more frustrated than the last.
“When we were in a flow, in a rhythm, we’d drop a ball, we’d have bad pass, we’d have a bad snap,” Hatten said. “We just never got in sync. It was one of those games where you just couldn’t get in snyc.
“Now I’ll tell you this, (Escambia is) pretty dadgum good and they can make you get outta sync. I think they got a really good football team.”
Trailing just 6-0 with three minutes left in the third quarter, the floodgates finally opened. Working with a short field, Smith found JoJo Blackmon over the middle, the junior receiver juking past the Bulldog defense for a 22-yard touchdown and a 12-0 advantage.
Three minutes later, Escambia opened the final frame with another touchdown, senior running back Frank Peasant bulldozing through the Bulldogs’ line for a 1-yard score.
Peasant finished his night with 94 yards and a score on 20 carries. Smith went 11-of-14 passing for 157 yards and three scores, all to Blackmon.
Meanwhile, Crestview’s triplets — quarterback Chase Moulton, running back Taylor Scarbrough and receiver Marquis McCoy — faired much worse against the Gator defense.
Moulton finished 22-of-42 for 173 yards and four interceptions, though one likely should have been called back after a pass interference call was inexplicably waved off and two more came on balls tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Moulton’s favorite target, McCoy, who scored three different ways in Week 1, caught 10 passes for 62 yards.
And Scarbrough, hot off a 273-yard showing against Vernon, was held to just 37 yards on 12 totes, his role diminishing as the deficit mounted.
“Offensively, it was pretty pathetic by us,” Hatten said. “Probably one of the worst performances since I’ve been here in terms of output and number.
“We just couldn’t get anything going.”
OFFENSIVE MVP: JoJo Blackmon, Escambia
It’s difficult to pick Crestview’s offensive MVP when the Bulldogs didn’t score and didn’t cross Escambia’s 10-yard line, so we’ll opt for the low-hanging fruit here.
A 6-foot junior, Blackmon hauled in six passes for an even 100-yards and three touchdowns, including what technically counts as the game-winner.
Only two minutes into the game, Blackmon simply raced past the Crestview defense to haul in a 27-yard touchdown pass and give the Gators a 6-0 lead.
DEFENSIVE MVP: Escambia
The Gators picked off senior quarterback Chase Moulton four times and stripped the ball away from the Bulldogs on their final possession of the night, holding an offense that averaged 42. 86 points per game over its past 36 contests to a doughnut.
“You just go out there and work, man. You work and you hope that you can line up and compete because we got a tough schedule ahead of us, man. A tough schedule. We’re gonna see what kinda team we are. We’re either gonna be a pretender or a contender. We’re gonna find out.” – Hatten on his approach to the coming week.
Crestview welcomes Godby (0-2) to Jack Foster Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday, the Cougars coming off a 45-42 overtime loss to Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) in Week 2.
Godby finished its 2018 campaign 11-1, its only loss a five-point decision against Bolles in the Region 1-5A semifinals.