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Leesburg Yellow Jackets vs. Brooksville Hernando Leopards, High School
Leesburg rally falls short at Hernando
By C.J. Risak
October 17, 2009
Updated: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 6:02 p.m.
HERNANDO -- Leesburg coach Charles Nassar wasn't about to sugarcoat his team's performance
Friday at Hernando.
Asked what his team might have gained from a strong second-half performance that saw the Yellow
Jackets trim a 27-0 deficit to a single touchdown, Nassar replied, "Nothing. We lost. There's no moral
victory to be had.
"You just can't dig a hole that deep. We had to be perfect in the second half and couldn't do it."
No, they weren't perfect, one reason they fell to the Leopards, 41-28, a loss that left them 4-3 overall,
2-2 in 3A-6. Hernando is 4-2 overall, 3-1 in 3A-6.
But there wasn't just the hole. It's who dug it for them.
Like Hernando's Alvin Delaine III, the main cog in the Leopards' three-man attack. Delaine gained 205
yards rushing on 20 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 18 yards and another
TD. He added a two-point conversion pass reception to cap a spectacular evening.
But he was only part of Leesburg's problem. As Nassar explained when asked what his team did
differently in the second half, he simply said, "Nothing. We started blocking, that's all."
Between their opening drive of the game and their first drive of the second half, the Yellow Jackets
could not even get a first down. Hernando drove 55 yards in the first quarter, Delaine going the last 27,
to get its first score, then added three more in the second, the first following an interception by Derek
Wilson tha tled to Kall Daniel's 8-yard pass to Delaine, the next a 66-yard drive capped by Marlin
Smith's 2-yard run, and the last after a fumble on the kickoff return that turned into an 11-yard Smith TD
Prospects for a long second half for Leesburg seemed good. But the Yellow Jackets went 55 yards in
just six plays, Luther McDowell -- who did not touch the ball in the first half -- going 42 yards to the
Leopards' 5, then scoring on a 3-yard run to make it 27-7.
Hernando answered with a 57-yard TD drive, Smith getting his third touchdown from 4 yards out, to put
it at 35-7.
But then it really got interesting.
Leesburg drove 58 yards for a score, Malcolm Belton diving in from 2 yards out, trimming the deficit to
35-14 with 44.6 seconds left in the third quarter. Then the Yellow Jackets' Austin Sellars recovered Ben
Rizzo's onside kick at the Hernando 37, and on the next play McDowell tossed a 37-yard scoring strike
to Sellars. In an 8-second span, Leesburg had scored twice to make it 35-21.
It wasn't over yet. Hernando fumbled on its very next play from scrimmage, Leesburg recovered, and
eight plays later Belton pushed his way in from a yard out to make it 35-28 with more than nine
minutes to play.
Leesburg had one last go at it, recovering another fumble at the Hernando 27. But that was it. Delaine
added a 12-yard TD run with 2:07 left to cap it for the Leopards.
"We were trying to look for a way to give it away," said Hernando coach John Palmer. "Our defense set
the tone early and I can't say enough about our offensive line."
For Leesburg, Belton had 92 rushing yards on 16 carries and McDowell gained 82 on eight tries,
getting all his yards in the second half.