Gulliver defensive back Cornelius Floyd wishes he could forget the time he played against Monsignor Pace as a sophomore.
Floyd remembers the pain he felt when he tore his ACL that afternoon two years ago. On Friday, Floyd made a memory he and the Raiders are likely to cherish for some time.
Floyd accounted for five of six turnovers Gulliver forced during a 17-10 victory against the visiting Spartans that helped it clinch the runner-up playoff berth in District 8-4A.
“It’s a great feeling knowing we clinched a spot, and we’re looking forward to making a run,” Floyd said. “It was a tough injury to bounce back from two years ago, but my coaches helped me all the way through.”
Floyd intercepted three passes, recovered a fumble and forced another as Gulliver (7-2, 2-1) survived a back-and-forth battle against Pace (5-4, 1-2) to clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive season.
Pace missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season and fourth time in five years after advancing in 18 consecutive seasons.
“These kids continue to go the extra mile every year, but games like these keep putting more grays on my beard,” Gulliver coach Earl Sims said. “It was an outstanding performance for Floyd because this game was huge for him.”
Gulliver took a 14-6 lead into the half following Mitch Davis’ 10-yard touchdown run set up by Floyd’s fumble recovery. A pair of errant snaps deep in their own territory cost the Raiders four points as Pace earned two safeties in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-10. Each snap came in shotgun formation, and each time the ball got past quarterback Jowan Watson and rolled out of the end zone.
But each time Pace had a chance to take the lead with solid field position, a bad snap of its own set it back and led to a turnover on downs.
The Raiders intercepted Pace quarterback Kelly Benson four times, often after the Spartans had reached Gulliver territory. Dionte Mullins came up with the final, crucial takeaway with 4:10 left in the game.
“I let a lot of the players know what this game meant to me,” Floyd said. “We did it for all the players that came through this program and to show that we’re still here.”