Harrisburg wasted little time, using a couple of big plays, to put away Massac County Friday night in River-to-River Ohio Division Action.
The Bulldogs were clicking on all cylinders offensively Friday night at Taylor Field, racking up four first-half touchdown scores en route to a 40-14 final against the Patriots.
The win moves Harrisburg to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play and leaves head coach Jason Roper in an all too familiar situation.
"We were here at this same exact point a year ago," Roper said. "We need to finish stronger than we did a year ago and that's something that we have talked about."
A year ago, Harrisburg closed out the second half portion of their schedule with just one win, a 48-14 victory over West Frankfort, while losing four of their last five, including three straight.
Those losses included a 21-19 defeat at Herrin, followed by the win at West Frankfort and concluded with losses to Benton (26-20), Carbondale (26-23) and a playoff loss to Mt. Carmel (35-7).
Roper is hoping that history does not repeat itself and if Friday night's performance is any indication of what's to come, Harrisburg looks to be on the right track.
The Bulldogs finished with 292 yards rushing, including 73 through the air as Justin Younger, Capel Henshaw, Dylan Hathaway, Daniel Lewis and Ryne Roper all accounted for first half scores.
After the Bulldogs muffed the opening kickoff, a squib kick by Massac County, where the Patriots recovered, Harrisburg got the ball right back thanks in part to a Logan Hartley interception.
From there, Younger completed a 45-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run with 9:20 to play in the first quarter.
On Harrisburg's second possession of the game, Henshaw took the second play from scrimmage and went 62 yards with a spin move at midfield for another score.
Two second quarter touchdowns belonged to Hathaway, where he scored from four yards out and Roper hooked up with a Lewis on a 73-yard pass play to give the Bulldogs a 26-0 lead at halftime.
Big plays were the key to Harrisburg's success in the first half and Roper gave credit to a front unit that provided the right hole at the right time.
"I think that comes down to our offensive line and our kids are starting to execute well and know what we are trying to do scheme wise."
The Bulldogs continued to pitch the shut out in the second half as Henshaw scored from six yards out with 11:34 to play in the fourth quarter, while Bryan Miller helped invoke the continuous clock with his run from 10 yards out with 9:36 to play in the game.
Page 2 of 2 - Massac County did score on back-to-back drives in the final eight minutes, while Harrisburg used substitution with the game out of hand.
Despite the two scores, the Bulldog defense held Massac County to 218 yards on 62 possessions.
Jordan Troutman finished with 181 yards on 38 carries and a touchdown, while Cameron Koch was 3-for-12 with 23 yards.
"I thought Troutman was extremely good, maybe one of the best we have seen all year," Roper said. "He was tough to tackle and our kids did OK for the most part. I was proud of our kids to come away with the win and be 4-1 at this point.
"Ryne is kicking extremely well," Roper added. "Starting teams on their own 20-yard line gives our defense a chance to make some plays. We have some athletic kids there and I think we're starting to play better in the secondary. We made some moves and those guys have done a nice job."
For the Bulldogs, Henshaw led the running attack with 112 yards on eight carries and two scores, while Lewis had one carry for 55 yards. Younger racked up 48 yards on five carries and Hathaway had 44 yards on 11 carries. Miller had three carries for 33 yards and Cooper Thompson had a carry for a yard.
Roper went 1-for-2 for 73 yards with Lewis catching the lone pass, which resulted in a TD.
Massac County 0 0 0 14 - 14
Harrisburg 14 14 0 12 - 40
HBG - Younger 13 run (kick failed), 9:20
HBG - Henshaw 62 run (two-point conversion), 3:24
HBG - Hathaway 4 run (two-point conversion), 10:30
HBG - Lewis 73 pass from Roper (kick failed), 5:51
HBG - Henshaw 6 run (Roper kick), 11:34
HBG - Miller 10 run (Roper kick), 9:36
MC - Koch 8 run (Haverkamp kick), 3:43
MC - Troutman 30 run (Haverkamp kick), 1:22
First Downs 13 15
Total Yards 365 218
Rushes-Yards 28-292 50-195
Passing Yards 73 23
Comp-Att-Int 1-2-0 3-12-0
Fumbles-lost 2 1
Penalities-Yards 4-24 4-27
RUSHING: HBG - Henshaw 8-112, Hathaway 11-44, Younger 5-48, Lewis 1-55, Miller 3-33, C. Thompson 1-1. MC - Troutman 38-181, Nickerson 4-(-4), Albert 3-5, Koch 5-13.
PASSING: HBG - Roper 1-2-0-73. MC - Koch 3-12-1-23
RECEIVING: HBG - Lewis 1-73. MC - Nickerson 2-21, Myers 1-2.