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Harmony drops heartbreaker to East River, 24-21

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm

By J. Daniel Pearson
Special to the News-Gazette

Nykie Marion capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds remaining as East River (2-1, 1-0) slipped by host Harmony (2-2, 1-1) in a District 7A-5 clash at Longhorn Field.

Although Marion scored the game-winner, the play of quarterback Tyler O’Hara sparked the win.  The son of former Predators quarterback Pat O’Hara, Tyler made big plays on the game’s final drive, including picking up key first downs with scrambles of 20 and 14 yards and hitting a 15-yard completion to Mason Moch. A roughing the passer penalty on a third and 13 from Longhorn 34 really cost Harmony.

“That was a killer,” Longhorn Head Coach Don Simon said.  “The pass fell incomplete and it would have been fourth and long and who knows what would have happened. Still give East River the credit, they made the plays they had to make to win.”

It was a game Simon thought his team had done enough to win. Trailing 17-14, the Longhorns took the lead with less than five minutes to go when quarterback Nate Hersitch hit Caleb Bass on an 8-yard pass to the back corner of the end zone to go up 21-17.  The drive capped a 9-play, 54 yard drive where Hersitch accounted for all but 15 of the yards with his legs and arm.

O’Hara had given the Falcons the lead earlier in the period when he hit Adonis Harris on a four-yard off a scramble. That play capped a 43-yard drive that included a 29-yard run by O’Hara.

It was a back-and-forth game throughout.  East River took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Luis Cuevas and were threatening to take a two-score lead at the half before Kareem Dinzey intercepted Jadon Dozier at the goal line and returned it 62 yards to the Falcon 38.   Eight plays later, Hersitch hit Austin Hickey on a 10-yard scoring pass and Harmony took a 7-3 lead at the half.

The Falcons regained the lead early in the third period when Harris slammed up the middle from eight yards out to make it a 10-7 game but Hersitch’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Bass late in the third made it 14-10.

Hersitch started the game 0-for-9 with an interception but finished game with three touchdown passes and 104 yards on 9-for-25 passing.  He was sacked four times.  Jordan Spoonhour led all Longhorn rushers with 55 yards.

“His numbers don’t necessarily reflect it but I thought both Hersitch and our offensive line played fairly well,” Simon said. “We had some guys run some bad routes and we certainly had some drops that should have been catches.  Nate threw three touchdown passes and put us in position to win.   We have to be able to finish.”

O’Hara completed just 7 of 21 passes for 59 yards and a score but rushed for 147 yards on 14 carries. Harris had 58 yards and one  rushing touchdowns to go with his touchdown reception.

Harmony returns to action on Friday with rivalry game with St. Cloud, another 7A-5 tilt.