Giovanni leads Harrison to regional title win over Flushing in first career start
Farmington Hills – Making a first career start can, at times, be an unnerving experience for a player.
But for Anthony Giovanni, he was making his first start under center in the regional final with a spot in the Division 2 state semifinals on the line.
But the Farmington Hills Harrison junior quarterback, filling in for starting quarterback Jevon Shaw, who went down with a knee injury in the playoff opening win over Fenton, was calm, cool and collected on Saturday afternoon as he helped lead the Hawks to a 23-10 win over Flushing, with the help of the always suffocating Harrison defense.
Harrison will face Mona Shores in the Division 2 state semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
“In his first start ever, I thought he did well,” Herrington said of Giovanni, who totaled closed to 150 yards to lead the Harrison offense. “He managed the game for us and he made the big run there at the end.”
With Harrison staked to a 17-3 lead after an Alex Bolstrum field goal for the Hawks late in the third quarter, Flushing found the endzone for the first time of the day midway through the fourth quarter when quarterback Garrett Oginsky’s pass was tipped, but found its way into the hands of Jacob Matus to cut the Harrison lead down to 17-10 with 6:39 left to play.
But less than two minutes later, Giovanni came up with what may have been the play of the game as he scored on a 43 yard touchdown run on a fake reverse to push Harrison’s lead back to two scores, 23-10 with under five minutes left in the game.
“I came around the corner and my tailback had a good block,” Giovanni said of his touchdown. “He sealed the edge and I went off of that block and there was nothing but green in front of me, so it was a credit to the line and the running back for that.”
After the touchdown run by Giovanni, two Harrison players were ejected from the game and are expected to miss next Saturday’s semifinal game.
From there, the Harrison defense took the game over as the Hawks stopped Flushing deep in their end as the defensive line registered three sacks in the final four minutes to help Harrison run out the clock.
“They’re very fast,” Herrington said of his team’s defense, which has allowed just 29 points through the first three weeks of the playoffs. “I (The coaches) do a very good job of getting them prepared. They know everything that the other team is doing and every single player has speed on the defense.”
Harrison opened up the scoring in the first quarter when a Devon Cook interception gave the Hawks a short field as Giovanni would score on a one yard touchdown run to put the Hawks on top, 7-0 with 5:08 left in the opening quarter.
Giovanni said that his primary focus on Saturday was to take care of the ball and make good decisions through the air, and that’s exactly what he did.
“The main thing I was thinking about was taking care of the football,” he said. “Getting the snap from the center and if I throw it, just make a smart read. That’s just what I was thinking about.”
Herrington said that he had a gut feeling about starting Giovanni throughout the week and added that the junior gives his team the ability to run similar plays to what it had run throughout the year with Shaw under center.
“I could run some of the same offense that we had all year,” he said. “He doesn’t have the strength or the burst that Jevon has, but we felt he could run the same plays and he did very well like the fake reverse touchdown run he had.”
Harrison would take a 14-3 lead into halftime after a 96 yard kickoff return by Iwarri Smith with 3:53 left in the first half, right after a field goal by Matus for Flushing.