Israel’s 6 TD passes bury Harmony
By Rick Pedone
Harmony’s bid for a regional playoff berth was buried beneath a hail of touchdown passes – six – from Lake Nona quarterback Tucker Israel as the Lions raced by the Longhorns, 56-7, Friday at Harmony.
Israel was 25-for-32 for 493 yards. His favorite target, FSU-bound receiver Ryan Sousa, had 12 catches for 275 yards and four touchdowns as the Lions built a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
Lake Nona, 7-2 and 5-1 in 7A District 6, clinched the runner-up spot behind district champion Osceola. The Lions will go to Lakeland Kathleen for a regional quarterfinal Nov. 15. Kathleen beat Lakeland, 24-3, Friday for the 7A-5 championship.
Harmony, 5-4 and 4-2, was bidding for a second straight playoff berth after being the district runner-up last season.
The Longhorns’ chance for a victory decreased even before the game began because one of the team’s top defenders, linebacker/safety Daishaun Grimes, injured his knee after practice Thursday.
“That hurt. We had a lot of things built around him,” Longhorns defensive coordinator Brian Lambert said.
Grimes played part of the game, but his mobility was hampered.
Things started well for the home team when the Longhorns controlled the first 8:39 of the game, driving from their 25 to the Lions 12 before they failed to convert a fourth-and-8.
It took Israel just two and a half minutes and seven plays to put the Lions up, 7-0, when he found Mehdi Elattrach on a slant pattern that resulted in a 57-yard touchdown play.
After the Horns punted, Israel and Elattrach teamed again for another TD play, this time from 35 yards. Lake Nona executed an onside kick and Israel tried for another long TD connection, but Horns defender Tristan Reeves intercepted at the goal line. After a Harmony punt, Israel completed three passes and capped a 55-yard drive by scrambling in from the 2 to make it 21-0. The Horns offense went three and out, and Israel found Sousa on a crossing pattern for a 29-yard score.
Harmony got a break just before a half when a turnover was nullified by a penalty and Horns quarterback Jeremiah Murray took advantage by finding Alexander Britton on a 9-yard TD pass with 4.8 seconds left in the half, cutting the deficit to 28-7.
Lake Nona quickly put the game out of reach in the third quarter by driving 60 yards on six plays, capped by another Israel-Sousa TD connection from 18 yards.
After a Harmony turnover, Israel threw 43 yards to Sousa to the Horns’ 5, and two plays later Israel ran for his second score from the 2, making it 42-7.
Sousa caught TD passes of 27 yards and 57 yards to wrap up the scoring.
Harmony, which is bowl eligible, wraps up the regular season next week at Eau Gallie.