Harrison Kulp kicked a 24-yard field in the final seconds to lift Heritage to a 45-42 win over Habersham Central in Mt. Airy on Friday night.
The Patriots (8-1), who have just one game remaining, clinched a spot in the AAAA playoffs. It marked the first time Heritage has ever made it to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
On Friday, the Patriots threatened to run away from the Raiders late in the third quarter thanks to a blocked punt Tyler Weaver. Weaver, who blocked another punt in the first half to set up a touchdown, smothered a kick by Habersham Central's Ian Wheeler and recovered the ball at the six-yard line. Quami Stanley sprinted into the end zone on the next play to give the Patriots a 42-21 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
But Habersham Central put together a furious rally, scoring three unanswered touchdowns to tie things up at 42-42.
On their final drive of the game, the Patriots got a break when the Raiders were called for pass interference on a fourth down incompletion. Three plays after the penalty, Kulp put the game-winning field goal just inside the left crossbar.
The Patriots finished the night with 478 yards, with 382 yards coming on the ground. Stanley led the way with 189 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries while Dominic Craft had 86 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Fullback Dominique Packer chipped in with 71 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Heritage quarterback Ryan Sutton completed five passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Habersham Central's quarterback Kevin Ellison, who is one of the favorites for the 8-AAAA Player of the Year, had 227 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and passed for 187 yards and a touchdown to lead the Raiders' offensive attack, which finished the night with 481 yards of offense.
Chase Alford led the Heritage defense with 10 tackles and added a four-yard touchdown reception on offense.