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Crystal River improves to 9-0

The game was theirs, but the moment was clearly his.

So as the final seconds ticked away in Crystal River's 28-17 win over Hernando, Leroy Hill basked in the adulation of the Pirates' fans, enjoying the props for a job well done.

And rightly so.

Hill's effort on what would be the pivotal drive in the game was nothing short of Herculean and was easily the difference in a game billed as the game of the year by many.

He had ten carries and 61 yards, including a 1-yard dive that was the difference in the game. As he has done so many times before, the 5-foot-10, 197-pound battering ram carried the Pirates on his able legs, pounding out sizable gains against a defense that knew it was coming.

Down 17-14 with 10:29 to play, Crystal River mounted a drive that surely will go down in the annals as one of its best. Hill, its best performer on this night, was the catalyst, but it was the execution and determination of the Pirates offensive line that made the difference.

Crystal River threw just once on the 12-play, 91-yard drive because that's all it needed. On a drive that typified Crystal River's power game, all but six yards were consumed by either Hill or teammate Ricky Posselt.

"I knew we had to go all the way and I was asking my line to get in there and open something up," Hill said. "I told them we were still in it and they really came through for me tonight."

As did Hill, and the rest of his mates on the Crystal River defense, who set the tone from the earliest moments of the game. Hernando, after picking off a Jimmy Grimsley pass on the game's initial play, was stopped on three plays and forced to settle for a 27-yard Brandon Browning field goal.

But the real effort was done on the Leopards' John Capel, who was bottled up for most of the game and managed just 45 yards before halftime.

Crystal River took advantage early, marching 66 yards on six running plays for a 7-0 lead on its next possession. Leonard Johnson Jr. provided the sparks on the next possession, racing 69 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Pirates lead.

Hernando had several chances after bad punts (2 and 9 yards) but never reached the end zone in the first half. That, however, changed in the second half when the Leopards offense came alive and produced touchdown drives of 57 and 80 yards, the last sparked by Williams' 63-yard run.

Crystal River added insurance, or maybe salt, with a nine-play, 79-yard drive, capped when Johnson rambled in off tackle from 10 yards out with 45.6 seconds to play.