LONE GROVE — When asked about the execution by Lone Grove in Friday afternoon’s 64-0 over Locust Grove in the Class 3A state quarterfinals, a smile broke across the mud-splattered face of Lone Grove senior quarterback Grant Harmon.
“The execution was great,” he said. “We were all on the same page. We executed our game plan perfectly.”
Lone Grove (11-3) advances to the state semifinals for the first time in program history. The Longhorns will play defending state champion Heritage Hall (13-0) this Friday at Moore High School with a 7 p.m. kickoff. Heritage Hall scored 41 unanswered points in a 41-6 win over Hilldale.
Playing in the driving rain and a 27-degree wind chill, Lone Grove’s power running game stampeded Locust Grove’s defense for 459 yards. Locust Grove’s high-octane offense, meanwhile, led by senior quarterback Mason Fine, the state’s all-time passing leader, generated only 113 yards.
The Longhorns defense pressured the Pirates’ standout quarterback from every direction and sacked him on just about every other play.
The senior quarterback ran the ball 25 times but struggled with his footing in the open field and was on the receiving end of several hard hits. Through the air, he completed just 5 of 13 pass attempts for 64 yards with three interceptions.
“Our defense played the best game they’ve ever played,” Lone Grove senior linebacker Jeremy Garrison said. “Every man executed his job perfectly, and we were the more physical team in all aspects of the game.”
The physical toll that the game took on Fine showed on one play with about four and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Running the quarterback keeper to his right, he was tackled hard in front of the Pirates sideline by a Longhorns defender and remained on the ground for a few seconds. But not wanting it to be the final play of his high school career, he got up onto his feet and played the remainder of the game.
“We knew that we had to get pressure on (Fine) and force him into some tough situations,” Lone Grove senior defensive back Layne McClennahan said. “Our defensive line did an excellent job of getting the job done. We just had a lot of focus and executed at a high level. We never let our foot off the pedal and just played harder than they did.”
Lone Grove did this all without junior middle linebacker Ryan Good who missed the game with an unspecified injury.
The Longhorns’ ground game was in season. Harmon didn’t attempt one pass but did rush for 155 yards on just nine carries and scored four touchdowns. Senior running back Jeremy Lewis ran the ball 12 times for 229 yards and four touchdowns.
Lone Grove led 52-0 at halftime.
The Longhorns didn’t punt once. In fact, the only time they didn’t score came when Harmon took a knee to run out the game’s final 18 seconds.
With two postponements in neighboring Murray County, Lone Grove coach Jeremy Turner was happy to see his Longhorns and the Pirates get in their game.
“I was glad to play (Friday) because of the time frame for next week,” he said. “It was huge for next week for whoever wins that game. They can keep on their regular schedule and be where we need to be. I was definitely happy to play.”
For all that went wrong for Locust Grove, the Pirates were in position to take the lead on the game’s initial possession.
Locust Grove moved the ball to midfield but a couple of mistakes ended that drive.
For a moment, it appeared that Fine had completed a deep pass along the left sideline that would have allowed the Pirates to convert on 4th and 9, but Locust Grove was flagged for illegal motion.
Facing 4th and 14 from its own 45, Locust Grove kept its offense on the field.
Fine dropped back but was sacked at the Pirates 35-yard line, forcing a turnover on downs.
Given a short field to work with, Lone Grove’s power running game went to work. The Longhorns strung together an eight-play drive. Harmon ran the keeper in from one yard out on 4th and goal for a touchdown. Lewis tacked on the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
After a penalty led to a three-and-out for Locust Grove on its next offensive series, Garrison partially blocked a punt, and the Pirates got only a 9-yard boot out of that play.
On the very next play, Harmon ran the quarterback option 51 yards for a touchdown and a 16-0 Longhorns lead after a successful 2-point conversion.
Locust Grove had a nice drive working on its ensuing possession. The Pirates moved the ball inside the Longhorns 40-yard line. However, Locust Grove coughed up a fumble which McClennahan recovered at the Longhorns 37-yard line.
Late in the first quarter, Lewis produced another long run, scoring a 62-yard touchdown to increase the Longhorns advantage to 22-0.
Harmon was quick to praise the Longhorns offensive line.
“They made running lanes that a truck could drive through,” he said.
After the postgame handshake, the Longhorns players, smiles stretched across their faces, slid chest first on the muddy turf to celebrate their win.
“Our kids went out and played football to their best of their ability in this weather,” Turner said. “It was a great sign of maturity and toughness.”
Lone Grove 64, Locust Grove 0
Locust Grove 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lone Grove 22 30 12 0 — 64
Lone Grove — Grant Harmon 1 run (Jeremy Lewis run)
Lone Grove — Harmon 62 run (Harmon run)
Lone Grove — Lewis 62 run (run failed)
Lone Grove — Lewis 55 run (run failed)
Lone Grove — Lewis 40 run (Harmon run)
Lone Grove — Harmon 41 run (Harmon run)
Lone Grove — Lewis 34 run (Harmon run)
Lone Grove — Harmon 41 run (kick failed)
Lone Grove — Stephen Meek 1 run (run failed)
Locust Grove Lone Grove
First Downs 10 15
Passing Yds. 64 0
Comp., Att., Int. 5-15-3 0-0-0
Punts-Avg. 1-9 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yds. 3-15 5-25
Individual Statistics (Lone Grove)
Rushing — Jeremy Lewis 12-229, Grant Harmon 9-155, Stephen Meek 20-68, Layne McClennahan 1-7