'Canes blow past Hernando

Gainesville High School players Case Harrison (13) and Chris Thompson (24) celebrate after Thompson scored a touchdown on a long pass and run during Friday's regional quarterfinal game against the Hernando Leopards.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.

On a chilly, windy night where the concession stand ran out of hot chocolate before kickoff, Gainesville’s offense started hot and stayed hot.

The Hurricanes, playing in Citizens Field for the first time in a month, blazed by Brooksville Hernando (6-5) early and often in a 60-3 rout Friday night in the Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinals.

Case Harrison, Ralph Webb (twice), Chris Thompson, Larry Prunty (twice), Alex Gonzalez, Mark Cato and Jack Cornell all found the end zone for the Hurricanes (11-0), whose undefeated season is the first in school history.

“Anything less than state is a disappointment,” Webb said. “We’re confident we can get there, but humble, too. We prepare and work hard every week like it could be our last.”

Cato led the way with 8-of-12 passing, 194 yards and five total touchdowns.

“He’s a leader of this team, and I get more impressed with him every week,” coach James Thomson said. “But it’s a selfless team, that’s the thing. They all love each other and play for each other. We’re family. That’s what separates us from a lot of teams.”

Tony James led rushers with 85 yards, but Webb got two touchdowns out of his 75 yards.

Prunty, however, had one of the more eventful nights for the ’Canes. In addition to catching touchdown passes of 21 and 40 yards, he amassed 45 penalty yards. Between touchdowns, Prunty and Hernando’s K.D. Hagood tussled after a play. Hagood appeared to spit toward Prunty, who was called for a second unsportsmanlike penalty while being restrained from retaliating.

On the following ’Canes possession, Cato immediately turned to the 5-foot-7 receiver, airing out a 40-yard touchdown pass on the first play. Prunty dropped to a knee and prayed in the end zone, earning another flag.

Coupled with the drama of being in the playoffs, Gainesville was also coming off its bye week, something Thomson was a little concerned about.

“You always wonder how they’ll come out, if they’ll come out flat or not,” he said. “They came out pretty strong and maintained that throughout the game, so I’m proud of them. Now, that we’ll be home again, it’s a really good feeling.”

The ’Canes will host Ocala Vanguard, the District 5-6A runner-up, for the second time this season. Gainesville won the Oct. 19 matchup 34-19.

“It doesn’t change how we prepare, but it changes the dynamics of the game,” Thomson said of facing a district foe in the playoffs. “We beat them, so I’m sure they’re going to be hungry. We’ve got to understand that and go into the game with a little more competitive nature.”

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