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Longhorns light up Liberty, 33-6; East River next in 7A-5

Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 9:13 am

By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette

In the only high-school football action that took place in Osceola County last week, quarterback Nate Hersitch led Harmony’s up-tempo offense to a 33-6 District 7A-5 victory Saturday over county rival Liberty at Longhorn Field.

The Longhorns (2-1) hope to keep that momentum rolling Friday, when another 7A-5 opponent, East River, comes calling on Friday at 7:30 at Longhorn Field.

Hersitch fired four first half touchdown passes Saturday, and a stingy Longhorn defense forced recorded three interceptions as Harmony rolled to a 33-0 halftime lead over Liberty (1-2).

“Defensively we played a great game,” Harmony Head Coach Don Simon said.  “We came into the game averaging two takeaways a game and improved on that.  Our offense is improving but it is still a work in progress.  We are trying to teach an up-tempo offense but when you try to play fast you are going to make some mistakes, especially early in the season.”

The deciding factor was Harmony’s defense, which limited Liberty’s offense to 25 net rushing yards, forced four turnovers, blocked a punt, recorded three sacks and held the Chargers to just 185 yards of total offense on 45 plays.

Offensively, Hersitch and his receivers made few of those mistakes in the first half.

After the Longhorns recovered a muffed punt, Hersitch hit Caleb Bass on stride for a 76-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead. Following an interception by Kareem Dinzey, Hersitch found a wide-open Josh Hall on a 54-yard pass to give Harmony a 14-0 advantage.

Harmony would then make it a 20-0, as Hersitch capped a 9-play, 65-yard drive by finding Josh Hall on a 20-yard scoring pass on fourth down. Dinzey would then set up Harmony’s fourth touchdown by intercepting his second pass of the night and returning it 50 yards to the Liberty 35. From there, Hersitch hit Bass on a 33-yard completion and Jordon Spoonhour ran it over from the three to make it 26-0.

Following a blocked punt, Hersitch needed six plays before finding Spoonhour on a middle screen a 10-yard touchdown and a 33-0 lead at the half.

The only score of the second half was a 42-yard touchdown pass from Liberty’s Jaelen Ray to Mario Johnson on the Chargers’ first possession of the second half. But Harmony put the game on lockdown late, keeping the ball the final eight minutes of the game running the ball 14 consecutive times and picking up five first downs as they moved the ball nearly the entire length of the field.

For the game, Hersitch completed 15 of 26 passes for 309 yards and four scores. He was intercepted once. Bass had five of those receptions for 172 yards. Hall had four catches for 85 with a pair of scores; while Spoonhour had 76 yards rushing and a touchdown to go with his 10-yard touchdown reception. Dashaun Washburn had 86 rushing yards on nine carries.

Ray was 8-of-25 for 160 yards passing; while Johnson had five catches for 125 yards.

Harmony, the only 7A-5 team to have played a district game aside from Liberty as Hurricane Irma washed out most of last week’s slate, has the enviable task of taking the early district lead Friday when it hosts East River. The Falcons (1-1) out of Orlando have yet to play a district game.

Liberty will look to regroup when it hosts Celebration (0-3), which has yet to score a point this season.