WEEKI WACHEE — The 2013 campaign hasn't been an easy one for Hernando. After losing to two state-ranked opponents and having a third game cancelled due to weather, the Leopards welcomed Friday's Class 5A, District 6 opener against Weeki Wachee.
Hernando capitalized on that enthusiasm in a 27-10 victory.
"I thought we came out of the box slow," Hernando coach Dwayne Mobley said, "but it feels good to go home and know what we're doing is working."
Weeki Wachee (1-3) was able to contain the Leopard offensive attack throughout most of the first half, but Hernando (1-2) did break through for a touchdown at the end of the first quarter when Richard Graham IV, following up on his own 43-yard run down to bring the team inside the red zone, punched the ball in from 3 yards.
A 33-yard field goal in the second quarter from David Tinch made the score 7-3, a number that held until halftime. Tinch, the usual starting quarterback for Weeki Wachee, suffered a right shoulder injury last week against Hudson and did not start under center Friday, primarily kicking and punting.
Starting the third quarter, the Hornets rolled the dice with a successful onside kick to give the team great field position. It paid off when Marcus Allen, playing quarterback, sneaked the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown to give Weeki Wachee a 10-7 lead.
"We just couldn't get anything going offensively," Weeki Wachee coach Mark Lee said. "We wanted to throw the ball more, but you can't do that when you're throwing from your back."
The Leopards took control. On the shoulders of the running duo of Graham and Mondrell Brown, Hernando racked up 291 yards on 40 carries. Graham (12 carries, 102 yards, two touchdowns) and Brown (10 carries, 100 yards, one touchdown) each went over the century mark and broke a run for more than 40 yards.
The ground attack, combined with Hernando's defense (three sacks, two interceptions), was able to overcome some of the Leopards' sloppy play. The winning team finished with 14 penalties for 135 yards compared to just two penalties for 15 yards for the Hornets.