Following an injury to senior running back Torrey Green on the first play from scrimmage, the speedster knew he would have to take on a bigger role in the backfield if he and his Bulldog teammates wanted to escape with a win on Friday.
Harris single-handedly lifted the Bulldogs to a 41-35 victory with a 238-yard, five-touchdown performance on 23 carries as Hanceville held off a gutsy effort from the Yellow Jackets.
Hanceville (6-1, 4-1 in Class 3A, Region 7) raced out to a 22-7 halftime lead on the back on three touchdowns runs — 2, 31 and 34 yards — from Harris, while holding Winston County (3-4, 2-3) to just 118 total yards.
However, the Yellow Jackets weren’t about to be turned away so easily.
They shredded Hanceville’s defense for three scores on their first three possessions of the third stanza, including long runs of 39 and 53 yards from junior tailback Cody Henderson. A 2-yard scamper from Quinton Pagay late in the quarter gave Winston County its first lead at 28-22.
The tide turned for Hanceville with about two minutes left in the third, as sophomore cornerback Jose Orozco picked off a Timber Blankenship pass in his own end zone and returned it 40 yards to put a stop to a potential Yellow Jacket scoring drive.
Nine plays later, the Bulldogs tied the game at 28 apiece on a 5-yard scoring scamper from Zack Cooper.
Although Hanceville’s D wasn’t at its best on Friday, it made the plays when needed — especially in the fourth quarter — allowing just 32 total yards, while securing a couple of sacks and a game-saving interception from Dant’e Reese.
Harris went on to add his final score of the game — a 43-yard, untouched burst up the middle — to secure the win for the Bulldogs heading into next week’s matchup with Danville.
Hanceville ended up with 396 rushing yards on the evening, with Carlos Chacon contributing 85 of those on 13 carries to help out Harris. Cooper added 73 yards of his own on nine totes.
With just two region games left on the docket, Miller knows his team has its fate in its hands, as they draw ever closer to securing a first-round, home playoff game in November.
Winston County (3-4, 2-3) plays at Hamilton in another region showdown next week.