Coach Chad Frazier's Heritage Patriots remain undefeated (4-0) after beating the Cedar Shoals Jaguars 21-0 before the homecoming crowd Friday night.
"Our offensive line played extremely well," Frazier said. "But I can't say enough about our defense."
That defense recorded six sacks, including one early in the game that preserved the shutout.
Cedar Shoals returned the opening kickoff 30 yards, and tailback Adrian Washington found enough holes in the Patriots' defense to put the Jaguars in field goal range. However, Patriot defensive lineman Miles Kiett sacked Cedar Shoals quarterback Darius Jordan for a seven-yard loss. The ensuing field goal attempt sailed just under the cross bar.
The Jaguars would not threaten the rest of the way.
The Patriots' offense went on a 78-yard drive that used up the rest of the first quarter and part of the second, but Harrison Kulp's 17-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The Patriots' defense allowed a first down, but Heritage had the ball back a few plays later. Myron Fears picked up 12 yards to get the Patriots into Jaguar territory, and quarterback Ryan Sutton connected with Obe Fortune on a 31-yard pass play to the Cedar Shoals' 11. Fears took it in from there to put Heritage on top for good. Kulp's point after was good for a 7-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first half.
The Patriots picked up a first down on a fake punt just before the half when Marshal Talpin ran up the middle for 15 yards, but the 45-yard field goal attempt was short.
The second half began with a bang for Heritage when Kamari Neal streaked 93 yards straight up the middle of the field for a touchdown. Kulp was good again, and it was 14-0 with just 14 seconds gone in the half.
"Going up by two scores was huge for us," Frazier said. "We thought we had found a weakness in their kick coverage, and the kids executed well."
The Jaguar offense struggled to get anything against the vaunted Patriot defense. Dustyn Moore sacked Jordan to force a three-and-out; Rodderick Darden sacked Jordan twice to force two more three-and-outs.
The Patriots were called for pass interference and complicated the situation by getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a move that put the Jaguars at the Heritage 26.
It wouldn't matter.
Steven Everson promptly intercepted a pass and returned it to midfield. Fears carried the ball 45 yards to the three, and Taplin scored the third Patriot touchdown two plays later.
The 21-0 victory sets up a four game gauntlet for Heritage that begins with the perennial powerhouse Red Elephants in Gainesville next week, followed by games with Winder Barrow in Winder, Clarke Central at home and Flowery Branch on the road.
"We'll prepare and game-plan and give it our best effort," Frazier said.