Cabrera’s 11-yard TD burst in double OT seals Springstead’s ninth straight win, edging Hernando, 19-16

Springstead senior Logan Blevens was named Hoemcoming KIng while Isabel Langdon was queen as Homecoming Queen Friday night in Spring Hill. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Glory Days general manager Rory Marchido presented a pair of 1,000 checks to Hernando High’s Shavaris McNair and Springstead’s Adrian Cabrera. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Anthony Alexis rushed 39 times for career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns in Friday night’s double OT win over Hernando, 19-16. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Hernando senior Shavaris McNair looks for some running room in Spring Hill. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


With a chance to win it,

HHS’ Grant misses point-after


SPRING HILL – If nothing else, Friday night’s exploits solidified the legend of Adrian Cabrera.

Cabrera, Springstead’s senior middle linebacker, had missed the last two games due to shoulder dislocation injury suffered against Nature Coast Technical.

He had not practiced with the Eagles this past week and wore a non-contact jersey.

But the 6-foot, 200-pounder touched the ball for the first time in a month late in the fourth quarter of a 7-all stalemate.

He entered attempting to give a blow to an exhausted senior starting fullback Anthony Alexis.

Adrian Cabrera

Alexis, who missed all of last year due to a broken leg, was having a career night with 39 carries for 191 rushing yards.

Alexis, the Eagles’ leading scorer, opened the game capping a 9=play, 65-yard scoring drive with his ninth touchdown of the season from three yards out with 8:53 remaining in the first quarter.

Senior quarterback and place kicker Max O’Rourke followed with a perfect point-after boot, 7-0 Eagles.

That’s the way it stood until the second play of the third quarter.

The Leopards were limited to 15 snaps in the first half and three first downs.

On the Leopards initial snap of the second half, senior Maurice Holland set the tone with a 25-yard burst.

Hernando senior tailback Kev’on Williams followed by roaring 46 yards untouched.

Kev’on Williams

Williams finished with a season-high 105 yards on 15 carries.

Junior place kicker Perry Grant split the uprights with 9:39 showing, 7=7.

The 41st meeting between both teams featured six alternating punts as the defenses dominated.

In Springstead’s final possession of a mistake-free game, Cabrera replaced Alexis.

Cabrera, who is known as the team’s “closer” finished with eight carries for 32 yards.

The Eagles drove to Leopards’ 15-yard line. SHS appeared to line up for a 22-yard field goal attempt on the game’s snap in regulation.

O’Rourke, who has buried two field goals 40-plus yards this season, had misfired on a 29-yard field goal in the first half.

This time, the center snap was way high forcing holder, senior Logan Blevens, to sprint to his right looking for a pass receiver.

But his pass fell incomplete, so welcome to overtime.

Though Hernando won the coin flip, they opted to put their defense on the field first.

On first down from the Kansas tiebreaker, Alexis rumbled 10 yards into the end zone for second touchdown of the night and 10th of the season.

The ensuing center snap was too low and Blevens was bowled over, 13-7 Eagles.

Springstead, which had performed so well on special teams for three weeks in a row, was suddenly on the defensive.

On first down, Kev’on Williams ripped off a five-yard gain before Springstead jumped offside on defense.

After 3-yard penalty moved the ball to Eagle 2-yard line, Williams scooted around the left end for his touchdown of the night and fourth of the season to tie matters, 13-all.

All Hernando needed to apply the dagger and spoil Springstead’s Homecoming Game was to convert the ensuing extra-point.

It never happened.

The ensuing snap was low and so was Grant’s kick that was blocked.

It was bedlam along the near sideline.

But now it was simply Hernando’s turn.

On first down, Holland was submarined for no gain before Holland’s pass in right flat fell incomplete.

In one of the keys to the game, HHS finished 0-for-4 through the air for zero passing yardage.

On third down, Holland reeled off a five-yard burst setting up and fourth and goal from the SHS 5-yard line.

Here, second-year skipper Robert Kazmier trotted out the field goal unit. The same one that had not hit a field goal all season.

Perry Grant

But Grant redeemed himself with a perfect 22-yard field as the Purple and Gold enjoyed its first and only lead all night, 16-13.

Qwenton Coney

Springstead went to work but on first down, but HHS senior defensive end Qwenton Coney wrestled Cabrera down for a 1-yard loss.

From the 11, Cabrera pushed the pile forward into the end zone.

It was Times Square revisited. The celebration along the home sideline never subsided.

Cabrera’s fourth touchdown of the season ended Springstead’s longest game in 44 seasons and clinched the Eagles’ ninth straight win, edging Hernando (3-4 overall), 19-16.

Several standouts

Springstead, which improved to 6-0 overall, played without senior offensive tackle Scott Lydting.

In Friday’s warm-ups he didn’t feel he was ready to play so first-year junior – 6-foot-4, 260-pound Gannon Lanning –

Gannon Lanning

replaced him in the starting lineup.

Logan Crossley

Springstead’s chunky offensive line – which features 352-pound junior tackle Logan Crossley and 332-pound senior guard Colby McMillan strafed the Leopards for a game-high 293 offensive yards on 50 snaps.

The hosts out-rushed the visitors, 263-173.

Besides Alexis’ career night, junior slotback Jaylen Thompson added eight carries for 25 yards.

Senior Toby Rahman aided the cause with three carries 18 yards while Cabrera finished with 32 yards on eight attempts.

O’Rourke, who finished 6-of-10 through the air, rushed twice for a minus-3 yards.

The Springstead special teams recovered a pair of short pooch kicks by O’Rourke thanks to Blevens and senior Austin Pascoe.

Post-game chatter

Austin Pascoe

“We work really hard on special teams in practice,” explained the 17-year-old Pascoe. “We’re taught that we run downfield until there’s a whistle. They reacted really slowly two of our kicks but I had my eyes on the prize (ball) the entire time.”

Logan Blevens

Blevens wishes the Eagles would have had a better center snap following the first overtime score.

The snap was low, real low. I tried to dig it out,” shared the 17-year-old Blevens.

“This was a pretty big game,“ added Blevens. “Hernando showed a lot of fight. We just never stopped playing. We’ve got to get better.“

Adrian Cabrera

“I’m nothing without my teammates,” explained the 18-year-old Cabrera. “I thank God for the opportunity to play this game again tonight. In that last play, everything went perfect. That’s a credit to my teammates.

“What I take away is we played hard all night but we’ve gotta get back to work beginning on Monday and get ready for another district game (versus Lecanto).”

Alexis lauded Hernando.

Anthony Alexis

“Hernando’s a great team. They’ve got great athletes. They really wanted this,” shared the 18-year-old Alexis.

“Right now, we’ve got a lot to play for,“ added Alexis. “But everything starts in practice. We’ve gotta get better on offense, defense and special teams.”

The heart-breaking setback was hard to swallow.

Robert Kazmier

“It’s a shame someone had to lose tonight,“ explained Coach Kazmier. “This was one of the best football games I’ve been associated with. I just wish we had the last snap back; it was too high.

“Tonight was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was tough looking at the kids’ faces afterward. This one hurt, because they played so hard.

“…From here on out, the games get harder and harder,” summed up Kamzier. “Our biggest positive was the energy level never waned tonight, it was constant. The guys were locked in early..

“What did we have 15 offensive snap in the first half and took this game to overtime. Our O-line was pretty gutsy all night.“

On what perturbed Kazmier, “We didn’t cover two kicks, but I saw effort for 48 minutes and played hard for four quarters. We haven’t done that all season.”

Mike Garofano

From the home sideline, seventh-year SHS skipper Mike Garofano appeared relieved.

“I almost had a heart attack tonight. This game had everything. It was an emotional cliff hanger. I can’t believe we missed a field goal and point-after and still won this game.

“…Give Cabrera a lot of credit on that last touchdown. He willed himself into the end zone. It was like he was wasn’t going down..

“…I thought we had chances to open up a 14-0 or a 17-0 lead. We moved the ball extremely well early on but we couldn’t finish (drives).”

Springstead 19, Hernando 16 (2 OT)































Individual Scoring:

SPG – Alexis 3 run (O’Rourke kick).

HER – K. Williams 46 run (grant kick).

SPG – Alexis 10 run (Blevens 2-point pass fails)..

HER – K. Williams 2 run (Grant kick fails)

HER – Grant 22 FG.

SPG – Cabrera 11 TD run (no kick attempted).





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