Two long touchdown plays and some key mistakes at inopportunistic times were too much to overcome as the Harmony Longhorns saw its 2018 season come to an end with a 13-6 home loss at the hands of the Kathleen Red Devils in a Class 7A Region 2 quarterfinal Friday.
With the win the Red Devils (6-4) will play crosstown rival Lakeland at Bryant Stadium in next week's regional semifinals.
Meanwhile, Harmony sees the season end at 9-2 and a 9-game win streak snapped.
“A really tough one to take and certainly not the way we wanted to end our season,” a dejected Harmony head coach Don Simon said. “We had a lot of chances to take control of this game and were unable to do so.”
The Longhorns controlled much of the first half as its defense recorded three interceptions and started in plus-field position on four of its first five drives. But Harmony could only manage a 3-0 lead on a Reece Allison 33-yard field goal at the 9:10 mark of the second quarter.
Harmony’s lead was short-lived. Torean Sealey broke a couple of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and broke loose on a 90-yard touchdown run to make it a 6-3 a little more than four minutes later.
A possession later, the Longhorns made two critical mistakes that would eventually cost them the game. After holding on downs and forcing a fourth and 18 from its opponent’s own 10-yard line, the Harmony defense roughed the Red Devils punter to give Kathleen an automatic first down. Two first downs later at the Harmony 44-yard line with just 2.4 seconds left, quarterback Dominique Walker threw a ball deep down the right sideline that Sealey pulled in for a touchdown.
“Time was running out and I’m not sure whether our kids just froze on the play or whether the receiver just ran by our guy, but it was an obvious mistake. Give their quarterback some credit for throwing a great ball though,” Simon said about the play that put his team down by 10 at the half, 13-3.
Three more trips to the red zone in the second half ended on Harmony turnovers as Kathleen held on to its lead into the fourth quarter. The Longhorns then got a break when they blocked a punt to set up a first goal inside the Kathleen 10-yard line.
But after a procedure penalty, a run and two pass plays netted just nine yards and forced the Longhorns to once again settle for a 23-yard Allison field goal as Harmony cut the lead to 13-6 with less than five minutes remaining.
The Longhorns would get one more shot, forcing a punt and getting the ball on its own 35 with 1:57 remaining. Quarterback Nate Herstich would use his arm and legs to pick up four first downs to reach the Kathleen 18-yard line with 24 seconds remaining.
But on the next play, Ry’Shawn Clayton sacked Herstich, stripped the ball and recovered the subsequent fumble.
The Longhorn offense, which came into the game averaging more than 47 points a game, was held six points and 251 yards of total offense. Herstich finished the game 13 of 29 for 155 yards, he also rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries. Running back Justin Gleason had 48 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively, Harmony had three interceptions, a blocked punt, five quarterback sacks and made Kathleen turn the ball over on downs twice.
“Our defense certainly played well enough to win, but on offense we simply could not finish drives. Kathleen came up and loaded the box with eight and pressed us from the beginning. We weren’t able to run effectively and our passing game was out of rhythm,” Simon said. “Again this game was disappointing but I could not be prouder of these guys and especially our seniors. When we got here a couple of years ago we were coming off a four-win and season and we have now won 16 games in two years. It’s something these kids should be proud of and something I am proud of.”