BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando Leopards pounced on a fumble recovery late in the first quarter and used that momentum change to propel themselves to a 46-0 runaway victory over Citrus Friday night.
By night's end the Hernando homecoming crowd left happy, but early on it looked as if the Leopards would be in for a dogfight. For the majority of the first quarter Citrus (2-7, 0-6) went toe-to-toe with Hernando (6-2, 5-1) until a fumble recovery deep in the Hurricanes territory gave the Leopards momentum they never relinquished.
Following the turnover the Leopards struck for a touchdown on the very next play when Kall Daniel hit Alvin Delaine on a 15-yard pass play for a touchdown with 1:18 left in the quarter.
The quick score deflated the Hurricanes who had played an inspired quarter of football yet still saw themselves behind on the scoreboard.
Following the quick score and sensing a chance to move in for the kill, the Leopards pounced on the 'Canes for two more touchdowns in less than a three-minute span to take a 21-0 lead at the break.
The first of the two strikes came on a 34-yard run by Delaine (eight carries for 113 yards and three touchdowns) and that was followed by an 11-yard run L'Tevin Williams. Hernando officially put the game away in the third quarter, thanks in large part to two more Citrus turnovers that led to 13 of Hernando's 18 points in the quarter.
The most impressive score of the night came when Delaine busted a move inside on the Citrus defense and broke it for a 73-yard touchdown run.
"All I can say is I'm glad he's on our side," coach John Palmer laughed. "He's something special. When I saw that move all I could say was wow"
Early in the fourth quarter Hernando, following a booming punt by A.J. Woythaler, returned a punt 75 yards for the Leopards final score of the night.
With the win Hernando locks up no worse than a tie for second place in the district. Dunnellon defeated Tavares 35-14 and clinched the district title. If Hernando wins next week against Nature Coast it will lock up the second playoff spot but if Nature Coast and Crystal River (against Tavares) both win, it will set up a three-way tie and a playoff for the second spot.