Dee Beckwith displayed that he was the best player on the field early and often Friday night.

The senior athlete guided Florence to a 33-20 win over Buckhorn with four scores.

“We felt comfortable about executing our plays and it fell into place,” Beckwith said.

Beckwith completed all three of his passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, hauled in two touchdown catches for a total of 135 yards and tacked on 65 yards on the ground.

Beckwith's versatility showed with a pair of scores in the opening quarter. Beckwith and Gardner Flippo lined up next to each other on the first score, in which Beckwith streaked down the seam and scored on a 61-yard toss from Flippo.

Zane Gilbert II was the beneficiary of Beckwith's first touchdown pass, grabbing a 61-yard pass to give Florence a 13-0 lead with 4:26 left in the first quarter.

Momentum swung back and forth in the second quarter. Florence saw a touchdown run called back due to a holding call and fumbled the ball away the next play. Buckhorn couldn't take advantage, though, and a costly bobble on the snap of the punt led to a fumble that was recovered by freshman Jahlil Hurley. The turnover set up a spectacular 26-yard touchdown run by fellow freshman Jaylen Simpson that featured two lightning-fast cuts.

The Falcons maintained the 20-0 lead into the half.

Buckhorn barely hit the century mark in the first half with 103 total yards while the Falcons caused a pair of turnovers.

“We executed well tonight and didn’t make too many mistakes,” Florence head coach Will Hester said. “We have to get some things cleaned up but always good to get a win heading into region play.”

The Bucks’ Riley Irwin had a big second half as Buckhorn tried to rally. The senior receiver started with a 29-yard contested catch with 8:15 in the third quarter. Buckhorn originally settled for a 38-yard field goal but a roughing the kicker extended the drive. Irwin hauled in another 8-yard catch to set Justin Hambrick's short TD run with 5:53 to play in the third quarter.

Florence responded quickly with another big throw from Flippo to Beckwith for 74 yards to push the lead to 26-7 at the 4:34 mark of the third quarter.

“Dee is the best athlete on the field at all times so we’re going to utilize him anyway possible,” Flippo said. “When he is at receiver, he is my favorite target. I think he proved tonight what kind of player he is.”

Brandon McNeal connected with Irwin for 48 yards on the next drive to put Buckhorn back in scoring range. However, Carson Casteel stopped the drive with an interception in the end zone, as the Falcons maintained a 19-point lead.

Florence’s final score came with 6:37 remaining when Beckwith found Elijah Hartnett on a 14-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-four call. The touchdown gave the Falcons a comfortable 33-7 lead. 

The Bucks closed withing 33-20 when McNeal found Irwin on scores of 13 and 20 yards. 

Flippo finished 5 of 7 for 175 yards and the two scores. Simpson added 51 yards on eight carries and Gilbert had two catches for 80 yards.

Irwin finished with 7 catches on 10 targets for 162 yards. McNeal was 13 of 19 for 261 yards.


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