Dynamic East Hamilton receiver and defensive back Tre Herndon scored two touchdowns, including what turned out to be the game-winner, as the Hurricanes edged Cleveland 21-20 in a District 5-AAA football game Friday night.
With his team down 20-14 late in the first half, Herndon took a pass from Hunter Moore, escaped a couple of defenders and tiptoed the sideline before cutting back for a 65-yard touchdown. He finished with four catches for 90 yards and also had an 80-yard kickoff return in the first half on a pooch kick.
"We had watched film and knew they liked to kick to that side," Herndon said. "I knew I had to make the most of my opportunities tonight. This was a much-needed game -- one that could decide if we go to the playoffs or not."
The first half was all about offense and playmakers, as Cleveland amassed 251 yards of total offense and the Hurricanes total 165. The Blue Raiders took away the East Hamilton rushing attack all night long, which gave Moore a chance to operate in the pocket. Despite being sacked three times, he accumulated 283 yards passing and made some big throws in the fourth quarter.
The Hurricanes' other touchdown came on a run by Matt Milita early in the second quarter.
D.J. Jones scored on a pair of short touchdown runs for Cleveland (4-3, 2-1) and quarterback Austin Herink had a 40-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Davis, who torqued his body and made a nice catch falling down in the end zone. But two plays hurt the Raiders.
Jones gave them a 6-0 lead on the game's first possession, but they missed the extra point. Then in the third quarter, Herink passed to Eric Goodwin, who was going in for a touchdown but had the ball punched out from behind at the East Hamilton 5-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by the Hurricanes for a touchback.
The Hurricanes (5-1, 2-1) drove the ball back downfield, only to fumble at the Cleveland 4 as the third-quarter horn sounded.
In the fourth quarter, Moore made some big throws, including a 28-yard completion to Austin Gatewood on a thrd-and-16 with under two minutes to go. By the time the Raiders got the ball back, there were only about 25 seconds remaining and they had about 66 yards to go. Four desperation passes later, the game was over.
Herink finished with 215 yards passing, with Davis catching four passes for 104 yards -- all in the first half. The Raiders were limited to 106 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes.
"I'm proud of the effort. The guys did what they were supposed to do," Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said. "Their guy [Herndon] made two great plays and that was the difference in the football game.
"Our guys need something good to happen to them, but sometimes you have to make your own breaks and we need to do that."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.