By JON-MICHAEL SORRACHI
Published October 16, 2004
LECANTO - Entering Friday night's Class 3A, District 8 game, Lecanto and Hernando had combined for a 1-11 overall record, but both still had playoff aspirations.
Lecanto prevailed, defeating the Leopards 25-7 behind Richard Chaney's 210 yards rushing and three touchdowns and a "bend but don't break" defensive effort.
"It feels good," Chaney said of snapping the Panthers' 15-game losing streak.
Lecanto coach Bob LeCours agreed.
"We executed," said LeCours, whose Panthers are 1-6 overall, 1-1 in the district. "The assistants did a heck of a job getting their morale up."
Hernando (1-6, 0-2) had Fabian Jackson (seven carries, 109 yards) and Chad Sanders (19, 108) each gain more than 100 yards rushing but the Leopards had trouble sustaining drives.
Lecanto took its second lead of the season on a 5-yard sweep by Chaney less than four minutes into the first quarter. Early in the second, Chaney took a handoff at his 29-yard line and raced 50 to set up first and 10 at the Hernando 21. C.J. Osburn scored from 1 yard out to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead.
But the Leopards marched back, putting together a seven-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off by Sanders' 1-yard TD run on fourth down.
In the second half, Osburn hit Dustin Elbers on third and 7 for a 41-yard gain on a play-action pass. On the next play, Chaney had a bruising 15-yard run, breaking several tackles before scoring. Early in the fourth, Lecanto's Garrett Frieberg intercepted a Jason Thomas pass and the Panthers cashed in seven plays later on Chaney's third touchdown.
"I hate to be optimistic at 1-6, but I've got to," said LeCours, whose team faces Citrus and Crystal River the next two weeks. "At 1-6 , if you would have told me we'd still have a chance at the playoffs, I'd have been ecstatic."