BROOKSVILLE — In what has become the must-see game in Brooksville, Hernando and Nature Coast locked up in a crucial Class 5A, District 7 game.
The Sharks rode the legs of Michael Weston and solid defensive play to a 35-14 victory Friday night at the Shark Tank. The win clinches the district for Nature Coast, who will play Lecanto (makeup game) on Monday night.
"We started playing football," Nature Coast coach Cory Johns said of his team’s second-half efforts. "Whenever we get stopped on offense, it’s usually self-inflicted wounds. We started playing our brand of football and that’s what got us going. Our defense really stepped it up tonight."
Nature Coast (7-1, 5-0) showed no signs of trying to take the contest slowly on the offensive end, as the Sharks ran an end around with speedster Kinyatah Morgan (five carries, 111 yards), who scampered 80 yards to the end zone. With Hernando down early, Nature Coast looked to take advantage in the opening quarter, but couldn’t find pay dirt again in the period.
The Leopards (7-3, 3-3) remained resilient, with quarterback Boston Tafelski (8-of-15, 79 yards) finding running back Israel Fields on a nifty 14-yard touchdown pass to put Hernando ahead 7-6 in the second quarter. Another long run back by Morgan helped set up the Sharks’ second touchdown of the night, a 3-yard run by Weston (26 carries, 155 yards).
"Anytime I hear we’re in ‘Dozer’ formation, know we’re going to score or get a first down," Weston said.
The Sharks started to pull away just before Homecoming intermission when Johns’ offense orchestrated a third scoring drive, ending on Weston’s second touchdown of the night, a 6-yard run. Armed with a 21-7 lead at halftime, Nature Coast made sure to carry over momentum into the second half.
Hernando made things interesting when Fields (19 carries, 88 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night to cut the deficit down to 21-14 in the third quarter. A long fourth-quarter scoring drive by Nature Coast, capped by a 24-yard score on a counter play by Morgan, helped seal the victory for the Sharks.
"Coach (Cory Johns) told me I have all the ability to make big plays," Morgan said. "Coach put in this new play a couple days ago and told me I’d score."