In the 11th edition of the “Battle of the Bell” rivalry between Harrison and Kennesaw Mountain, the Hoyas held off a furious fourth quarter rally from the Mustangs to post a 17-14 Region 4AAAAAA victory Friday at Bruce Cobleigh Stadium.
Harrison (4-2, 3-1) led 14-0 entering the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs scored 14 points in the frame to keep the contest close.
Harrison’s Copper Largent sandwiched a 32-yard field goal between Kennesaw Mountain’s two touchdowns, and consecutive runs of four, five and three yards from Jonathan Fisher on the Hoyas’ final possession produced a much needed first down that allowed Harrison to run out the clock in the final 2 minutes and clinch the victory.
“This was a good hard fought game from both teams,” Harrison coach Marty Galbraith said. “Kennesaw Mountain really came to play. It took an all out effort from us to get the win. We caught a few breaks when we needed to, and didn’t beat ourselves.”
Harrison has now won three straight over Kennesaw Mountain, and leads the rivalry series 9-2.
“It’s great to be able to keep our hands on the ‘Bell,’” Galbraith said.” I know it means a lot to the community and to the kids, and to be able to pick up another region win gives us good momentum heading into our bye week next week.”
Lorenzo Nunez, who was 3-for-9 for 67 yards and a touchdown, connected with Drevon Jones for a 28-yard score with 4:25 on the clock in the first quarter. He also rushed 14 times for 67 yards, including a 19-yard scamper for a touchdown with 48.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter to put the Hoyas on top 14-0.
That’s when Kennesaw Mountain, which was limited to 89 total yards and committed seven penalties for 60 yards in the first half, got it’s offense going.
Following the Hoyas’ score, Mustangs’ quarterback Nigel Hayes found Andrew Goodman for receptions of 37- and 9-yards and connected with Maurice Phillips for 10-yards to set up first-and-goal at the Harrison 1-yard line. Hayes plunged in for the score on the next play, but Adrien White slipped during the extra-point attempt, leaving the Mustangs trailing by eight.
Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions, but on the Hoyas’ penultimate drive, Nunez found Deuce White for a 19-yard reception to set up Largent for the critical field goal.
Hayes, who completed
9-of-18 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, capped a 6-play, 65-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring strike to Jordan Saunders on the Mustangs’ ensuing possession. Hayes ran in for the two-point conversion to make it 17-14 with 1:59 remaining.
Kennesaw Mountain didn’t try for an onside kick, and instead attempted to get the ball back on downs. However, Fisher’s forceful runs right up the middle created the first down the Hoyas needed to run out the clock and get the win.
Harrison’s defense also played a prominent role in the victory as Joey Connors and Terry Davis pressured Hayes all night, and limited the Mustangs’ running game, which only had one run of 20 or more yards.
“Our defense played pretty good (Friday),” Galbraith said. “They really carried us.”
Fisher rushed six times for 36 yards and Damon Cowan had five carries for 51 yards for Harrison.
Hayes rushed 12 times for 56 yards and Phillips caught five passes for 56 yards for Kennesaw Mountain, which has dropped four straight.
“I can’t say enough about our seniors who have been through so much,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “They played this game as hard as I’ve seen them play all season. In the second half, and especially the fourth quarter, we did all we could do to get back in the game.”