BROOKSVILLE — Hernando walked into the Bears Den on Friday as defending Class 6A, District 6 champion, and walked out with a 33-0 shutout win over Central despite losing the penalty and first down battles and turning the ball over twice.
Central (1-4) moved the ball pretty well against a Hernando defense that was without playmaking standout Darren Hambrick, who was sitting out the game due to discipline issues according to coach Dwayne Mobley. The team was also minus linebacker Justin Roberts, who is coming back from a shoulder injury.
Bears quarterback Cole Teater ran for 92 yards on 14 carries while leading the team on four drives inside the red zone.
"(Cole)'s so strong and extremely bright," Central coach Mike Einspahr said. "He has his hot moments. It's an amazing deal where we're so close."
The lack of points did not indicate an inability to move the ball. The Bears turned the ball over on downs five times in Hernando territory. Of the 14 incomplete passes Central had, 11 were via drops.
The big edge for Hernando (2-3) came because of the playmaking ability of Ra'shaad Hart, Tyrail Hawkins and Jeremiah Jackson. The three each had major plays to spark touchdowns for the Leopards.
While Hernando did not have the long, workmanlike drives to eat up clock, Hart and Hawkins led the offense on big plays to score. Hart actually scored on one drive where he needed only two runs starting on the 10 where he went 90 yards and scored on a 66-yard touchdown. He finished with eight carries and 129 yards. He also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass.
Hawkins also hit pay dirt through the air and on the ground. Five carries for 59 yards including a 19-yard touchdown and 3-of-7 passing for 61 yards and a touchdown showed just how threatening last year's 1,000-yard rusher is with the ball in his hands.