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Farmington Hills Harrison knocks off Oak Park as Herrington ties MHSAA wins record

By: Jeff Dullack, October 7, 2017, 1:00 am

Farmington Hills – Farmington Hills Harrison legendary head coach tied the MHSAA all-time coaching wins record of 430, held by Birmingham Brother Rice’s Al Fracassa as Harrison picked up a 17-14 win over Oak Park on Friday night.

After the game, Herrington said that he felt that tying Fracassa’s record would be a possibility, but added he was more focused on getting his team to qualify for the playoffs as Friday’s game marked the Hawks’ fifth win of the season.

“It’s great,” he said. “I felt that if I kept coaching, it could happen. Al’s a terrific coach, he coached in the Catholic League and I coached in the public (school), so it’s a little bit different, but it’s good. It’s just a win, but I’m more happy that now, we should qualify for the playoffs.”

Herrington entered the 2017 season with 425 wins, five shy of the state record.

Harrison (5-2) jumped out to a 14-6 halftime lead after Noah Hendricks scored on a quarterback sneak from one-yard out on the final play of the first half, but Oak Park would respond with a strong start to the second half.

After a Harrison field goal pushed the Hawks’ lead to 17-6, Oak Park (5-2) would cut the deficit down to 17-14 after Gary Gayle ripped off a 26-yard touchdown run, running over Harrison defenders in the process. Oak Park would add on a 2-point conversion on a run by recent Michigan State quarterback commit Dwan Mathis.

Harrison senior and Notre Dame commit Ovie Oghoufo said that his team came out motivated on Friday night, looking to lock up a playoff berth and bounce back from last week’s loss to Birmingham Groves.

“Bounce back was the motivation,” he said. “We came off of the tough loss to Groves and we came back and practice was more intense, the scout team was more intense and at the end of the day, we just made plays.”

But after the Oak Park forced a Harrison punt early in the fourth quarter, the Harrison defense came away with its third takeaway of the second half as Nik Cotton came up with an interception at the Harrison 6-yard line with eight minutes left to play.

While the Hawks were unable to score on the ensuing drive, the offense used over six minutes of clock and a pooch punt pinned Oak Park at its own 12-yard line with less than two minutes left to play as the Harrison defense was able to hold on for the win.

“We started on the 6-yard line and I just said that we had to hang onto the ball somehow,” Herrington said. “But I was looking at a quarterback keeper and that got us in good territory and we didn’t have that in the game plan originally, but we put it in and it worked. Then, one of the coaches said, what about a quick kick, we didn’t want to go for it, it was about fourth down and four, if we don’t make it, they have half a field, if we punt it, they may return it, so whoever said quick kick, I was all for it.”

Herrington will have an opportunity to break the MHSAA all-time wins record next Friday when the Hawks play host to Berkley. With a win, Harrison would also clinch a playoff berth with its sixth win of the season.