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Hernando holds off Crystal River

Hernando High's 17-16 non-district victory over Crystal River on Friday night was a tale of two quarters.

The first belonged to Hernando and third to Crystal River, but the Leopards withstood the Pirates' second-half comeback.

Hernando improved to 2-0 overall, 3-1 in the Gulf Coast Conference. Crystal River fell to 2-3, 1-1 in the GCC.

Hernando jumped ahead 17-0 in the opening period on a 24-yard field goal by Roger Kennedy, touchdown runs of 25 and 3 yards by tailback Jermaine Green and a pair of point-after kicks by Kennedy.

Then, Hernando coach Mike Imhoff said, "We lost our intensity. We packed our bags and thought it was over."

Crystal River rallied in the third period with touchdowns runs of 4 and 7 yards by fullback Bobby Fischer and a pair of conversions runs from tailback Ephesus Hopkins.

Hernando turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter, once on downs when Green was stopped inches short of a first and again when Green fumbled, but each time the Leopard defense responded.

Hernando ended Crystal River's three final-period drives with a blocked pass by Robert Lindsey, a fumble created by blitzing Tom Valdez and recovered by Travis Merritt, and an incomplete pass forced by the rush of Brad Rosman.

"We didn't play solid defense in the second half," Imhoff said, "but when we had to make plays we made them."

Green ended up with 156 yards on 31 carries. Fischer had a team-high 59 yards on 10 carries.

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