It was a lot closer that Coach Don Simon would have liked, but the Harmony Longhorns are 3-0 for the first time since 2015 following a thrilling 13-12 home win over Palm Bay on Friday night.
“We made that game a lot more exciting then we should have,” Simon said after Palm Bay blocked a late punt, scored a touchdown and had a potential game-winning two-point conversion knocked down by Chase Adams with 29 seconds left. “Our defense was playing so well tonight, I almost decided to go for it on fourth and sixth at midfield because I really felt the only danger would be from a special teams mistake.”
With Harmony facing a fourth and six at their own 49 and leading 13-6, Simon’s worst fears came true as punter Alex Tuyo had to field a bad snap on the second bounce which allowed the Pirates to block the kick and recover on the Harmony 27.
One play later, quarterback Jayden Mobley would hit Larry Johnson down to the Harmony goal line and with 29 seconds left, he would run it over from the two to make it 13-12. But on the ensuing potential game-winning two-point conversion, safety Adams held his ground, drifted to the back of the end zone and knocked the ball away from Johnson to preserve the win.
“They sent a receiver in motion and I signaled to our corner to stay with him. I read the quarterback and drifted to the back of the end zone and was able to bat the ball down,” Adams said.
It was part of a huge night for both Adams and kicker Alex Tuyo. With the score tied 6-6 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, it was Adams who stepped in front of a Mobley pass and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown to give Harmony a 13-6 lead.
Palm Bay’s lone score came in the second quarter when Andrew Young intercepted Ayden Parks and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked and Tuyo countered with field goals of 39 and 42 yards to even the score at 6-6 at halftime.
Neither team could score in the third quarter, but with Palm Bay driving it was Adams who stepped in front of a Mobley pass and returned the interception 88 yards for the go-ahead score with just over nine minutes to go.
“Happy with the win and it may be the grittiest performance by a Harmony team since I have been here,” Simon said. “But we certainly had a lot of opportunities to put this game away and failed to do so. We played a lights out game on defense, but give them some credit, their defense did to.”
It was the third consecutive game in three years that came down to the wire between the two teams. In 2020, Harmony won a 15-14 game. Last year, Palm Bay won 20-16 when Harmony fumbled inside the Pirate five yard line in the final seconds. With the one point game Friday, only two points separated the teams in three games.
Palm Bay forced three Harmony turnovers and limited star running back Tyler Emans to 58 yards on 20 carries. Still Harmony’s defense was equally impressive only giving up the lone touchdown in the final minute of the game and limiting the Pirates to 111 yards of total offense with 85 of those coming on the final three possessions.
“It was a frustrating game on offense,” Simon said. “They played a smart game and pinched their defensive tackles in the gaps on every play which freed up their linebackers to make plays. Still we were driving for touchdowns twice and turned the ball over deep in their territory twice. If we score either time the plays at the end of the game would not have mattered.”
Simon added that the upcoming bye week for the Longhorns was coming at the right time. “We have some tough opponents coming up and the extra week will give us time to work on fixing the mistakes we made tonight.”