The return of senior quarterback Thomas Sloan and excitement from senior night propelled Harpeth to a 28-18 victory over in-county rival Sycamore last Friday night.
Sycamore took the opening kickoff and maintained a strong drive all the way into the red zone, but on fourth and short at the 10-yard line, Harpeth defensive back Logan Johnston broke up a screen pass from Sycamore quarterback Grady McPherson.
McPherson started at quarterback against Harpeth after coming in last week in the second quarter.
After a long drive, Harpeth took over deep in its own end zone. Sloan made his presence felt quickly as he took the Indians’ offense deep into Sycamore territory.
The end of the first came, and the game was still scoreless, but Harpeth was in scoring position. Just 1:30 into the second, Lionel Marquardt took the handoff from Sloan and ran to the end zone from the 10-yard line to open up the scoring.
Sycamore and Harpeth exchanged a few drives with nothing happening until favorable field position gave Harpeth the ball at midfield.
Harpeth almost squandered the strong field position after a penalty and a tackle for loss, but on third and long, Sloan found Mason Holley over the middle on a play-action pass for a 28-yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and Harpeth took a 14-0 lead.
The Sycamore offense took over, and after a few dropped passes by the War Eagles’ offense, there wasn’t much time and still plenty of field left. With 8 seconds on the clock, McPherson rolled left and threw a long pass into the end zone. Houston Hudspeth made an incredible diving grab to collect the pass but the referee ruled him out of bounds. With that, the game went to half at 14-0 in favor of Harpeth.
Harpeth took the opening kickoff in the third and used pure willpower to make its way down the field and score as Sloan took a quarterback sneak from the 5-yard line to push the lead to 21-0.
Much to Sycamore’s credit, though, the War Eagles didn’t retreat. Sycamore took the following kickoff and put together its best drive of the evening to that point marching down the field until sophomore Rayvon Green took a handoff and bounced to the outside and used his impressive speed to outrun the Harpeth defense all the way to the goal line. Sycamore missed the extra point but was on the board nonetheless. With 4:25 left in the third quarter, Harpeth still led 21-6.
Sycamore’s defense would bow up and hold Harpeth to a short drive on the next possession so the War Eagles took over in good field position. By the end of the third, Sycamore had the ball in the red zone and looked to score.
On the first play of the fourth, McPherson took the ball himself and snuck in from the 5-yard line to make it 21-12. Sycamore, however, missed another extra point, which kept the game at a two-touchdown contest.
Harpeth took the next drive, and Sloan found the end zone once more as he called his own number on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line. After a successful extra point, Harpeth increased its lead to 28-12.
Harpeth’s senior kicker Andrew Gailey was perfect on the night with extra points, going 4-for-4.
On the following possession, Harpeth’s Logan Johnston grabbed an interception with 4:48 left in the game. Harpeth couldn’t run out the remaining time on the clock, so Sycamore got one more chance to put together another drive.
McPherson found the end zone again on another quarterback sneak, but with a failed two-point conversion and unsuccessful onside kick, Harpeth ran the clock out in the victory formation by taking two knees.
“We’re just really proud of our team and happy for the seniors who got a win on senior night,” said Harpeth coach Doug Loope. “Even the seniors without stats made a big contribution to the victory.”
Loope mentioned several seniors, including offensive lineman Max Johnson and a bevy of defenders that included Taylor Collins, Aaron McWright, Matthew Pack and Davion Primm.
Although Sycamore had its troubles this season, the War Eagles did “play all the way to the end,” as Sycamore coach Mark Hall said. “But we didn’t have a good practice. It doesn’t matter what type of team you have or who you’re playing, you have to bring you’re A-game to practice, and that’s something we’ve got to work on.”
Harpeth will play host to Stewart County on Friday as both squads sit at 2-0 in region play. Stewart County is coming off a 45-14 win against Cheatham County Central.
Sycamore will play host to first-place Fairview on Friday as the War Eagles look to get into the win column next week.