ROCHESTER, MI – Garius Coleman scored twice and the Farmington Hills Harrison defense forced five turnovers as the Hawks defeated Rochester Adams, 19-7, in an Oakland Activities Association White Division game Friday night.
Coleman caught two touchdown receptions from sophomore quarterback Ryan Brand in the first quarter, one of 10 yards and one of 35 yards, and it turned out that was all Harrison (2-0, 1-0 OAA White) would need.
After connecting on the two touchdowns, Coleman said he and Brand, a transfer from St. Joseph, are starting to find their rhythm in the Harrison offense.
“Me and (Brand) have been playing for a while together, going to camps and those kinds of things,” Coleman said. “We’re playing pretty good together.”
Spotted with a 19-0 first half lead following an Eddie Huckleby 2-yard run, the Harrison defense went to work. The Hawks intercepted Adams quarterback Matt Sokol twice and forced four fumbles, recovering three.
Harrison took a shutout into the fourth quarter before Sokol connected with senior C.J. Borglin on a fade route for a 22-yard touchdown with 10:55 left in the game.
Despite losing the shutout, Harrison coach John Herrington was pleased with his defense, which held Adams to just 122 yards of total offense.
“The defense did a good job, they gave up the one fade route, but it’s a very tough offense to stop and they did a nice job of it,” Herrington said.
Part of the reason why Harrison was effective defensively is because its ground game kept the ball away from the Highlanders’ offense.
Led by junior Lorenzo Collins, Harrison outgained Adams on the ground, 183-49. Collins, who ran for 164 yards on 25 carries, credited his offensive line and the experience from being a third-year varsity player for his success.
“I’m more familiar with the game speed, so I know if I need to bounce it outside or keep it in (between the tackles),” Collins said.
For Adams (0-2, 0-1 OAA White), the team was never able to get much going offensively. After Borglin intercepted a Harrison pass in the end zone during the second quarter, the Highlanders had a chance to seize momentum back, only to fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive.
Harrison went on to score to take a 19-0 lead into halftime, and Adams coach Tony Patritto said the team’s play in the first half put it in a hole it was unable to climb out of.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half, so we have a lot to work on,” Patritto said. “It’s an 11-man game every snap and I can’t think of maybe two or three downs all night where all 11 guys did what they were supposed to.”
Adams had a chance to start a rally following Sokol’s touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Harrison recovered the ensuing onside kick, but turned the ball over on downs.
Sokol drove the Highlanders into Hawks territory, but Adams receiver Jack Twitty was unable to corral a deflected pass intended for Borglin on a fourth-and-20 play, giving the ball back to Harrison on downs. Harrison was able to run out the clock and hold on for the win.
Still, Patritto was impressed with how his team refused to give up in the second half.
“We talked to the kids at halftime and said ‘adversity’s in front of you – how are you going to respond?’” Patritto said. “At that point the score becomes not important in itself – you’re either going to play with chemistry and have fun and make plays or you’re not, and they did.”
Adams will look to rebound from its 0-2 start when it travels to Oak Park (2-0) on Friday. Harrison will put its 2-0 record on the line the same night when it travels to Oxford (1-1).