By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
With outstanding Harmony kicker Alex Tuyo staring down a chip shot field goal with less than three minutes to go, a district title seemed within reach for the Longhorns on Tuesday night. But things went south as a high snap allowed a Melbourne linebacker time to break through the middle and block Tuyo’s 19-yard attempt as the Bulldogs held on for a 9-7 win.
The victory moved Melbourne (6-2) to 2-0 in district play, while Harmony fell to 4-3 and 1-1 in district play. With a win over Heritage earlier this season, Melbourne will now only need to beat 0-6 Viera in two weeks to clinch the district and automatic playoff spot.
“Not going to lie, this one is going to hurt for a while,” Harmony coach Don Simon said. “We were playing a team that absolutely manhandled us last year and tonight we shut their offense down and had a real chance to win the game. We led for most of the contest and just needed push it across the line for a touchdown or to execute the field goal to win the game. “
Playing a bend but don’t break defense, Harmony led 7-0 at the half despite the Bulldogs dominating on time of possession. That lead came when the Longhorn defense stuffed Melbourne on a four and one play from its own 31 and four plays later Tyler Emans broke loose on a 17-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs would finish the half with a 17-play, 68-yard drive. But with Melbourne having a third and one on the Harmony six, the Longhorns snuffed out two consecutive runs to take over on downs and preserve the lead.
Melbourne would take the opening kickoff of the second half and drive 68 yards to the Longhorn 12, but the defense held again and the Bulldogs has to settle for a Trevor Causey 29-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game.
The Bulldogs would finally forge ahead in the fourth quarter. After a short punt, Melbourne took over on its own 40. After picking up a first down, Melbourne was faced with a second and 19 from the 39. Quarterback Hunter Turned launched a pass to the goal line where Jalen Clarke out-jumped a Harmony defender for a touchdown. But a missed extra point made kept it a 9-7 game. “Nothing really to say about the play, our guy was in position but a bigger stronger receiver went up and grabbed the ball,” Simon noted.
But Harmony would answer by mounting its best offensive drive of the game. A 28-yard run by Emans, followed by a 32-yard run by Cooper Richards, gave the Longhorns a first and goal from inside the 10. A Richards run took it inside the one-yard line but a sneak by quarterback Ayden Parks gained nothing and an outside run to Richards was snuffed out for no gain. With time running out, Harmony lined up for the short field goal and Logan Barnhill charged through the middle to block the kick.
“Such a tough way to lose a game. The high snap was definitely an issue but we also had a few lineman turn the wrong way. When everything is said and done, they made two huge plays (Clarke’s touchdown and Barnhill’s block) and despite several efforts, we failed to make the one play to win the game,” Simon said.
For most of the game, Melbourne was able to control possession time behind the hard-running of Wesley Lambert. The smallest senior back carried 29 times for 159 hard fought yards. Harmony had trouble moving the ball on the ground as Richards gained 56 yards on 12 carries and Emans managed 75 yards on 17 carries. But of those 131 combined yards, 83 came on just four attempts.
“I really thought we did a pretty good job being patient offense,” Simon said. “We’re a running team but they have a big physical defense that is extremely hard to run against. But we knew if we kept pounding it we would eventually break some longer runs and we did that. We simply did not make that one more play that could have won the game.”
Harmony will be on short rest this weekend as they must now play Tohopekaliga (5-1) and their high-flying offense on Friday night. “It’s going to be tough, but we will practice tomorrow and Thursday and get ready for them,” Simon added.