Hart football (1-2) got its first win of the season with an all-around team win over the visiting Fillmore Flashes (1-2) in their Friday night matchup at College of the Canyons.
The Indians were led by running back Donovan Dunn, who finished with 121 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Hart would miss a field goal on its opening drive but still struck first. After four straight incompletions, quarterback Tim Larkins hit his next six targets starting with a connection with Shawn Irwin for a 44-yard touchdown reception.
Larkins’ and Irwin’s chemistry was undeniable, leaving the wideout in tighter coverage throughout the game.
Irwin still finished the game with four catches for 128 yards.
The Hart quarterback wouldn’t complete a pass to a target not named Irwin until the second quarter.
The Indians would try to keep the passing game grooving but the running attack took over the game.
Hart running back Donovan Dunn scored on consecutive drives to make it 21-0.
“We came back harder after our first two games and we wanted this win more,” said Dunn.
The Indians wanted this win badly and rather than cancel any practices due to heat this week, the team opted to practice twice at 6 a.m. before school.
The Fillmore offense struggled and wouldn’t reach a first down until late in the first quarter on their third drive.
The Flashes were denied in Indians’ territory multiple times in the first half before their score. However, on a fourth and long in the red zone, Fillmore quarterback Anthony Tafoya hit Mathew Magana for 14-yard strike.
Hart nearly retained its three-touchdown lead after Irwin reeled in a 59-yard bomb. The Indians had a few heaves into the end zone but came up short at the half, still up 21-7.
Dunn got the sole score of the third quarter on an 18-yard pass from Larkins.
Larkins was under duress but his legs kept plays alive through the night. The junior dealt with Flashes consistently in the backfield as well as low snaps but still wouldn’t go down easily.
Larkins finished 12 of 26 passing and went over 200 all-purpose yards.
“We’re excited about things,” said head coach Rick Herrington. “The offense just has to get going a little more. Hopefully we’ll keep getting better.”
In the third quarter, cornerback Kolton DeBritz pulled down what would’ve been the game’s first interception, but a roughing the passer call kept the Flash offense on the field. DeBritz had a great pass breakup on the next play. The Hart defense stood tall and forced another punt.
Senior Charlie Thurman was able to get a hand on it, sending the ball straight back, setting up a score for junior Noah Keller, who jumped on the ball in the end zone.
An overwhelming run game, a standout wide receiver and solid special teams play would prove too much for Fillmore as they dropped their second game of the season.
Herrington wants to see his secondary continue to improve next week when Hart concludes non-league play.
“We have to play better pass defense,” said Herrington. “Mira Costa throws the ball and they got two receivers who are really darn good. Stopping the pass is something we’ll work on.”
The Indians finally got into the win column in week three and will look to heat up next week against Mira Costa.
Hart hosts the Mira Costa Mustangs Friday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. at COC.