Calling it his team’s “most complete game of the season,” Head Coach Don Simon sat back and watched as his Longhorns dominated all three phases of the game in rolling to an easy 49-6 win over Gateway on Friday night.
“We wanted to be methodical on offense and we certainly accomplished that,” Simon said as his team grounded out more than 10 yards a play in gaining 323 yard of total offense on just 30 plays. Other than the clock running out at the end of the first half and at the end of the game, Harmony scored touchdowns on all seven of its other possessions.
Although the ground game was key– as both Cooper Richards (10-129-3 TD) and Tyler Emans (15-146-2 TD) rushed for more than 100 yards– Simon also praised his junior quarterback Ayden Parks. “Our scheme is such that Ayden not only has an option on the handoffs, but he also has the ability to check out of plays based on what he sees from the defense. He probably changed the call 35 or 40% of the time tonight and he made the right decision practically every time.”
Parks finished the game two for two passing for 25 yards and a touchdown and also ran twice for 11 yards, including a 6-yard scoring run.
While Harmony’s offense was rolling, its defense was doing a good job bottling up the Gateway offense, limiting the Panthers to 133 yards of total offense and intercepting Gateway quarterback Ed Dyer Jr. four times.
“There’s not a whole lot to say, they just whipped us up front on both sides of the ball,” Gateway Head Caoch Marlin Roberts said. “I could use our youth as an excuse, but they are playing a lot of young guys too. I told our team after the game, that the difference is how much time they were willing to put in the weight room in the off-season. Harmony was simply bigger and stronger team than we were.”
Trailing 28-0 at the half, the Panthers did put together a solid drive to open the third quarter. Dyer rushed for 33 yards and then on a fourth and goal on the 10 found Delvin Pryor on a throw to the post that cut the gap to 28-6.
But Emans would break off a 47-yard touchdown run on Harmony’s next possession and after Longhorn defense forced a quick three and out, Richards would run it in from the six for his third touchdown of the game to make the score 42-6 and start a running clock for the rest of the game.
Special teams also played a role for Harmony. Kicker Kevin Lavigne hit all seven of his extra points and booted the ball out of the end zone on six of eight kickoffs –forcing the Panthers to an average offensive starting position of their own 17 yard line.
The win pushed the Longhorns to 3-1 on the season and set the stage for a huge district game against Viera next Friday night at home. “It’s probably the most important game we’ve played here in a long time,” Simon said. “The winner will control their own destiny in the district race.”
Gateway (1-3) has a road district game against undefeated Auburndale (4-0).