Crystal River nips Hernando after trailing virtualy the whole way; Lecanto loses to Central 9-7 in the other half.
It was just supposed to be a spring jamboree; a glorified practice, some say, not a game, or even a half of one at that. That didn't change the way Crystal River was celebrating its 14-10 victory over Hernando on Friday night.
Thankfully, the Pirates stopped short of dousing coach Earl Bramlett with a water cooler. Still, they jumped, cheered, hooted and hollered, oblivious to the fact that this was May, and even the two-a-days of August are still months away.
"I was really pleased by our kids," Bramlett said. "They worked hard in the spring. Hernando's a good football team, and I'm really proud of our kids for playing the way they did."
Each scrimmage featured two quarters, and Crystal River barely showed up for its first quarter.
Thanks to a fumbled kickoff return, the Pirates didn't have a play on offense until nine minutes into the game, when Hernando already had two drives, 17 plays and a 10-0 lead.
Once the second quarter started, Crystal River woke up. A 20-yard punt had the Pirates starting from the Hernando 45, and Nate Madison ran for 20 yards on first down.
Three plays later, he took a Clayton Trenary pass 15 yards down to the 5-yard line, and he rumbled in from there to put Crystal River on the board, down 10-7 with 8:33 left.
The Pirates got the ball back on their 30 with 5:03 to play, and Madison carried four of the next six plays.
Crystal River was well within field-goal range with just over a minute to play, but the Pirates clearly weren't looking to test their kicking game.
Trenary's 10-yard scramble off a rollout with 1:03 left gave the Pirates the lead.
Madison finished with 76 of Crystal River's 131 total yards and drew praise from Bramlett for his efforts.
"He's a man among boys. He's the man," Bramlett said. "He can take it all the way any time."
Hernando, which played its second-team offense for most of the second quarter, returned Crystal River's final kickoff to the 43, but self-destructed after that.
A holding penalty on first down backed the Leopards up 10 yards, and two plays later Dee Brown fumbled and Crystal River recovered to lock up the win.
In the first scrimmage, Lecanto lost to Central 9-7 with the Bears scoring the go-ahead touchdown off a 13-play, 70-yard drive that ended with four minutes left.
"This was a fun half," Lecanto coach Dick Slack said. "We were very happy with the performance of the kids tonight. We practiced only 13 days, so there were blown assignments, but there were a lot of bright spots."
Lecanto, which scored on a 1-yard touchdown by Anwar Nunn in the first quarter, had one last chance to drive for a field goal, but after Phil Reed completed a pass across the middle to Brian Perez two Central defenders hit him and the ball popped out to linebacker Charles Harding.
Reed, a freshman, completed just two passes but showed enough poise to impress his coach.
"It's the first time the kid's ever played varsity, and he did an excellent job," Slack said. "'The kids have worked hard in the off-season, and they're excited. We're expecting good things."