Hart football falls behind early against San Juan Hills

Signal file photo

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO –– The Hart football team began its CIF-Southern Section Division 4 second-round playoff game at San Juan Hills on Friday with high hopes after a comeback win a week ago.

Their demeanor quickly vanished on the first play from scrimmage after San Juan Hills running back Austin Hogan broke off a 59-yard run through the middle of the Hart defense. The following play, Hogan punched it in for a two yard touchdown run just 33 seconds into the game.

Falling behind early, the Indians were never able to recover through the 60 minutes of play to end the season with a 52-21 loss.

”We just had a disastrous first half,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “We didn’t get our opportunities and were like a deer in headlights. We gave up too many big plays and didn’t play well on either side of the ball in the first half. We made a comeback at the end, but then gave up two easy scores.”

Forcing the Indians (7-5) to punt on their first drive, the Stallions (9-3) used a five-play 51-yard drive that ended in a 20-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Hudson Jones to Hogan for his second touchdown of the quarter with 6:57 left in the first. After the two-point conversion, Hart trailed 15-0.

Hart (7-5) took over, but on the third play of the drive, Zach Johnson was sacked and fumbled the ball. San Juan Hills linebacker Jonah Johnson recovered the ball in Hart territory on the 29-yard line.

Holding its ground, Hart stopped the Stallions on a third and seven, forcing a 34-yard field goal to extend the San Juan Hills lead to 18-0.

The Stallions forced yet another Hart turnover on the following drive, intercepting Johnson bringing the ball back to the Indians’ 22-yard line. Two plays later, wide receivers Joey Hobert caught a 19-yard touchdown reception to make it 25-0 in the home team’s favor.

Needing an answer, Johnson drove the Indians down the field on a 75-yard touchdown drive by mixing in some screen passes to Taden Littleford before capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Ryan Tomaszewski to close the lead to 25-7.

The Stallions returned the favor as Hogan caught his third touchdown of the night on a 45-yard touchdown score. Just before the end of the half, Hart was driving in Stallions’ territory, but with three seconds left in the first half Johnson heaved a pass into the endzone and it was intercepted and returned 100 yards for the score.

At halftime, San Juan Hills led 39-7

Scoring on the opening drive of the second half, Hart rumbled down the field, leaning on Littleford and wide receiver Ashton Thomas, ending in a 17-yard touchdown catch by Thomas.

The Indians forced a punt on the Stallions’ following drive and drove 53 yards down the field as Johnson snuck in a quarterback keeper from a yard out to close the deficit to 18 points with under a minute left in the third quarter.

Down the stretch, the Stallions were a step or two faster on both sides of the ball stopping Hart on each of their final two drives, while scoring on their two. Hobert caught a 33-yard reception and James Gaines caught an eight-yard reception.

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