On a night where Hernando head coach Dwayne Mobley said his team needed to play more disciplined on offense, it would be his defense that would cause the Central Bears havoc and lead the Leopards to an easy 35-6 victory Friday.
Troy Grant would catch a pass to start the scoring, but his impact would be felt more on special teams as well as the defensive end, where the host Leopards held the county's leading rusher Robbie Bradley in check all night.
"He's a tough runner," Mobley said. "We held him to one rush longer than 10 yards and handled him well."
Leading 14-0 at the half, Hernando (3-6 overall, 3-3 Class 5A, District 6) watched Grant field a kickoff by the Bears (0-10 overall, 0-6 5A-6) and take it to the house, extending the lead to 21.
However, Hernando's offense couldn't seem to get out of its own way.
"We dropped too many passes," Mobley said. "Wide-open guys having balls hit them in the hands. We can't have that."
Even when the Leopards seemed to gain momentum, penalties would stop their offense dead in its tracks.
"Every time I thought we had a crease it was coming back," Mobley said. "We gain yards then the referee would call a penalty for this or that. We need to play more disciplined."
Grant would ease his coach's mind, when he returned his second kickoff for a touchdown, giving him three scores on the night.
Fellow Leopard Brian Duncan would also get in on the touchdown spree grabbing an interception and taking it all the way for a score.
"Defense wins championships, it is where it all starts," Mobley said. "Teams can't win when they can't score."
Up next for Hernando is a date next week with county-rival Springstead, who defeated Land O' Lakes on Friday, 34-21. The Eagles sealed a repeat 6A-6 championship, but Mobley said he will have his team ready to play.
"We play for the county championship," Mobley said. "They got a good running game, so we have to come out and stop the run."