SPRING HILL — Hernando established itself with a historic win over Springstead on Friday night at Booster Stadium, the likes of which Eagles fans hadn't seen in decades.
Hernando defeated Springstead 42-0 to make its mark in the county rivalry and the Class 6A, District 6 standings. The loss was fourth worst in series history and the worst since Hernando beat the Eagles 55-0 in 1999.
In the 34 times that Hernando (6-2, 5-0) has played county rival Springstead (2-5, 1-4), the Leopards have almost always had close games. While they led the lifetime series between the teams 20-13 coming into Friday night, the Eagles had taken seven of the past eight meetings.
The Leopards wasted no time jumping ahead for their fifth consecutive victory this season. On the opening drive, Tyrail Hawkins broke a 52-yard touchdown run. That trip to the end zone would be just the tip of the iceberg for Hernando.
Hernando hit pay dirt five times in the first quarter. Hawkins (four carries, 96 yards, two touchdowns) scored twice, Jeremiah Jackson ran for a 32-yard touchdown, and Marqui Redding scampered in from 61 yards out. The other score came on defense when John Bronson recovered a fumble in the end zone.
"I think our ability to run the ball says a lot about our offensive line and our depth at running back," Hernando coach John Palmer said. "We got off the ball really well, and you saw that there are backs on this team that would be getting more touches on other teams."
Palmer pulled his starters at the start of the second quarter, and one of those backup tailbacks, Quentin Adams, took over. He ran for 111 yards on only seven carries, mostly in the second half. Things didn't change much for Springstead, which still had difficulty moving the ball.
With 7 yards of total offense at halftime, Eagles quarterback Tyler Mahla (4-of-11, 38 yards) came out of the locker room throwing, but the Hernando front gave him no time. With three sacks, including two from Malcolm Hudson (four this season), the Leopards forced Mahla to get rid of the ball earlier than he wanted to on multiple occasions.