BROOKSVILLE - On just two offensive snaps, Weeki Wachee put two touchdowns on the board Friday night at the Bears' Den.
It took nearly every remaining second to make that lead hold up in the second edition of "The Battle of Hexam" between the Hornets and nearby county-rival Central.
The two teams came into the night a combined 1-9 and winless in Class 5A, District 6 action, yet pieced together a thrilling matchup chuck full of big plays, gaudy numbers and drama that lingered until the final minute.
In the end, visiting Weeki Wachee survived, improving to 2-0 all-time versus the Bears with a 21-20 victory.
As a result, the traveling trophy the two teams created for the series will remain in the Hornets' possession.
"It's a big win," Weeki Wachee head coach Mark Lee said. "Four games we've lost the last four weeks, so we needed to find something to get a spark.
"We made things so dang-gone interesting. The second half we had chances and as soon we'd get moving the ball we'd have a big penalty that would put us second-and-long, third-and-long. We're not the Denver Broncos that's able to make that up with no problem at all.
"Ball security at the end, that's one thing that frustrates me; we should have been able to run that clock out without this drama that we had here. But I was happy. Obviously this weekend will be a heck of a lot better than the last month."
The Hornets (2-4 overall, 1-2 5A-6) overcame another huge rushing performance by an opposing back, this time by Hernando County's leading rusher, Robbie Bradley.
The senior carried the ball 25 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 942 yards on the season.
As a team, the Bears (0-6 overall, 0-3 5A-6) posted 363 yards of total offense, 361 of it on the ground.
By contrast, Weeki Wachee passed for 208 yards while running for 84. Marcus Allen, sent to the hospital with a neck injury last week, handled the duties under center while David Tinch continues to nurse a hurt shoulder.
On the game's first play from scrimmage, Allen found Tyler Wiley streaking down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
Central bounced right back with a 14-play, 90-yard drive, featuring a 42-yard run by Chris Hernandez and capped by Devante Smith's 7-yard scoring scamper.
As soon as the Hornets regained possession, Allen took a reverse from Tinch and found Jon King open downfield for a 55-yard touchdown strike at the 2:02 mark of the first quarter.
At that point, Weeki Wachee had run two offensive plays covering 115 yards and accounting for a 14-7 advantage it would never relinquish.
Late in the opening half, the Hornets struck for a third time on a one-play drive. Wiley was again on the receiving end of a long touchdown pass by Allen, this time from 50 yards out with 10 seconds before halftime.
"With Tyler Wiley, he hasn't played wideout that much for us, but I'd put him in a footrace with anybody on this field," Lee said. "He can flat-out fly. It doesn't look like it with his stride. He's got such long strides. Right before the half he showed his speed just by outrunning everybody."
Wiley, the county's leading scorer in basketball last season, hasn't played football since sixth grade. The senior hadn't recorded a catch in his brief prep career, yet finished with three receptions for 150 yards.
"It feels great, just coming back on the field, doing what I do best," Wiley said. "It's getting back to me. It's feeling good. I'm glad to be out here with my team. I love the environment. It's just a blessing for me to be out here.
"In one game that's the most wide receiver I've played. I'm going to have a little talk with Coach in the locker room, see if he can get me out there a little bit more."
Central stormed back in the third quarter, with Bradley scoring touchdowns of 72 and 13 yards.
However, as a placekicker he misfired on his second PAT attempt, leaving the Bears behind by one with 1:31 to go in the third.
"Robbie speaks for himself," Central head coach Mike Einspahr said. "He's just a tough kid. He's got a lot of yards after contact, but the offensive line has done some good things for him.
"The sad thing, that's (the missed kick) what Robbie will remember. Robbie never asks how many yards he had, never asks how many touches he had. He never asks about one stat. Robbie will remember that kick the rest of his life, and that's the kind of kid he is."
The Bears had three chances to go in front in the fourth quarter, including a drive that started on the Hornet 45 as a result of a fumble recovery, and featured a successful fake punt.
But they would eventually turn the ball over on downs on the 23-yard line, then went three-and-out after Michael Helfand recovered a fumble on the Weeki Wachee 20.
Getting one last shot with 1:32 left, Central failed to go further than the Hornet 47 and threw an incompletion on fourth down with 40 seconds remaining.
Penalties played a big role for both squads, as the Hornets were flagged 10 times for 115 yards and the Bears 16 for 120.
"It stings. It stings very hard," Einspahr said. "It's a rival game, it should sting. It's your neighborhood buddy.
"I think my kids played as hard as I've seen them play in the second half in a long time. They came out with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm, but we have to take advantage of opportunities. We get a fumble and we have a fake punt and we get down there, we've got to score."
Weeki Wachee 21, Central 20
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
WW 14 7 0 0 - 21
CEN 7 0 13 0 - 20
WW - Wiley 60 pass from Allen (D. Tinch kick)
CEN - Smith 7 run (Bradley kick)
WW - King 55 pass from Allen (D. Tinch kick)
WW - Wiley 50 pass from Allen (D. Tinch kick)
CEN - Bradley 72 run (Bradley kick)
CEN - Bradley 13 run (Bradley kick no good)
First Downs 7 13
Atts./Rushing Yds. 26-84 47-361
Comps./Pass/Atts/Int. 5-13-0 2-9-0
Passing Yds. 208 2
Total Offense 39-292 56-363
Return Yds. 5-59 4-50
Punts/Avg. 5-30.8 4-27.3
Fumbles/Lost 5-2 6-1
Penalties 10-115 16-120