The Hoyas bounced back from an early 7-0 deficit to score three touchdowns in the first quarter and add two more in the second to take a 34-14 halftime lead and secure a 1-0 start.
It was a strong, if imperfect, start of the season for Harrison coach Matt Dickmann, whose Hoyas experienced some typical early-season struggles.
“It was pretty sloppy,” Dick-mann said. “I think, offensively, we really got things going at times. But we dropped a pass for a first down — it’s consistency. If we really want to compete in this region (4AAAAAA), we’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot — that’s the biggest thing.”
Harrison quarterback Lorenzo Nunez began his senior season in a big way, with the South Carolina commitment going
7-of-8 for 140 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
“He must have played the best game I’ve seen him play since he’s been here,” Dickmann said. “He threw the ball well, he made the right reads. I don’t know if he had any bad throws (Friday). He did a good job. He played smart.”
Bryan Terry rushed for 162 yards on 22 carries and scored all three touchdowns for Pope (0-1).
It was Terry who recorded the first score of the game as he entered the end zone on a 1-yard run to give the Greyhounds a 7-0 lead with 10:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Harrison began the next series on its own 15-yard line, but Nunez came through with a 57-yard run to take the ball to the Pope 38 with 9:57 left in the first quarter.
Nunez’s run was the first play of a nine-play 85-yard drive that finished with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mark Skradis with 6:03 left. However, Pope maintained a 7-6 lead after the extra-point was blocked.
The Hoyas got the ball back when Ross Neely intercepted a pass by Pope quarterback Taylor Wolf deep in Greyhounds territory and returned it to the one-yard line with 5:19 left.
Harrison took immediate advantage as Hayden Messina scored on a 1-yard run and Jonathan Grimes converted a 2-point run attempt to give the Hoyas a 14-7 lead with 5:15 remaining.
After Pope was forced to punt on its next possession, Nunez provided Harrison with its next score on the fourth play of its series as he threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Adonis Smith — with the extra point attempt blocked — to increase the Hoyas’ advantage to 20-7 with two seconds left.
Pope narrowed the margin to 20-14 on its next series as Terry scored on a 3-yard run with 9:02 remaining in the first half.
Harrison bounced right back with another score as Nunez threw a 12-yard pass to Messina and a 10-yard strike to Liam McGuire to set up his 32-yard touchdown run and Hutson’s extra-point kick to boost the Hoyas’ lead back up to 27-14 with 5:34 left in the first half.
The Hoyas completed the first half scoring as Nunez threw an 8-yard pass to Rodney Cyriaque and a 15-yard pass to McGuire to set the stage for Winston Boykin’s 24-yard scoring run and Hutson’s extra-point conversion with for a 34-14 halftime lead.
Pope scored once more on a 60-yard run by Terry and a Johnson extra point to narrow the Harrison advantage to 34-21 with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
But Messina’s 3-yard touch-down run with 11:25 left in the game — with the extra point attempt blocked — gave Harrison its final margin of victory.
“We made some mistakes and Lorenzo Nunez played a great game — there’s a reason why he’s going to South Carolina,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “But our kids gave a great effort. They really played their hearts out.”