SPRING HILL — The last time Hernando visited Booster Stadium two years ago, the Leopards dominated Springstead 42-0 in front of Eagle fans.
The cross-county rivals left Friday night’s contest singing a different tune after the playoff-bound Eagles dominated Hernando 41-20.
“We’re starting to click now,” Springstead coach Mike Garofano said. “This isn’t the same team we were in Week 1.”
Springstead (9-1) fell behind in the first quarter. After Tyler Mahla hit Joey Jeffords for a 22-yard pass to put the Eagles up 7-0,
Hernando (3-7) showed its resilience less than a minute later when Ra’shaad Hart answered with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Troy Grant Hambrick. A two-point run from Hart gave the Leopards an 8-7 lead, the only lead they would hold .
Daniel Wright ran in a 16-yard touchdown for Springstead in the middle of the second quarter, beginning a second consecutive banner performance for the junior tailback. With 20 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns, Wright (924 yards rushing) inched closer to 1,000 yards for the season .
With Mahla currently at 973 yards rushing after gaining 21 and a touchdown on the ground, the two could become the first duo in school history to break the mark in the same season. On senior night at Springstead, the senior quarterback also threw for 115 yards on 5-of-8 passing with one touchdown and one interception.
The Eagles feasted on Hernando turnovers. Hart threw an interception and backup Tyler Kline also tossed a pick to go with three lost fumbles .
The spark plug for Springstead was returner and running back Latavious Hannah. Also a senior, Hannah put up 148 total yards (21 rushing, 59 receiving, 68 returning) and a touchdown. Key punt and kick returns gave the Eagles great field position on multiple occasions.
“It was great to see that from Latavious,” Garofano said. “He’s one of those guys that’s worked hard for four years, and you know he’s capable of big time plays.”
The season-ending win ties this Springstead team with last season’s Eagles for the most wins in school history and the longest winning streak (nine). Springstead has also beaten Hernando eight of the past 10 times in a rivalry that dates back 36 years. The Leopards lead the overall series 21-15 .