Heritage reached the Georgia High School football playoffs for the third straight year but couldn't make it back-to-back seasons with a first round win.
On the road at Allatoona, the Patriots fell 24-21 Friday night when a potential game-tying field goal sailed wide with 31.6 seconds left to play.
Heritage jumped out to a fast start at the beginning of each half, but a 17-point second quarter by Allatoona (10-1) proved too much for the Patriots (8-3) to overcome.
"That second quarter got us," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said. "It was hard to get something going there. My hat's off to them; they did a great job."
Opening the second half, Heritage did something it struggled with in the second quarter and shut down the Buccaneers' offense. The Patriots then marched down the field after a 15-ya-rd face mask penalty by Allatoona started them on the Buccaneers' 32.
Heritage went 68 yards on 10 plays, all rushes, to take the lead back, 21-17. Ryan Sutton pushed it in from two yards on the quarterback sneak with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
Allatoona answered with a long drive of its own, going 72 yards on nine plays, led by quarterback Jeremy Uzee. The senior threw for 41 yards on the drive, and ran for seven more, including one yard for the score with 1:29 left for a 24-21 Buccaneers' advantage.
The lead was threatened as Heritage began the game's final drive with 1:43 to play. Allatoona forced the Patriots into a fourth-and-seven situation on the drive's first set of downs, and Sutton delivered in his final game at Heritage.
The senior threw for 22 yards to Christian Ried, putting the Patriots on the Allatoona 30-yard line. From there, Sutton ran for seven yards on second down and threw an incomplete pass on third down with Heritage at the 23-yard line.
Frazier then called on senior place kicker Harrison Kulp, whose 40-yard field goal sailed wide left.
"I felt like Harrison has been solid enough," Frazier said. "I have faith in my kid. It had the leg, he just missed it left."
The Patriots finished with 218 yards of offense, including 120 in the second half.
Other than a big pass play in the first quarter, Heritage struggled offensively in the first 24 minutes.
Heritage managed just 88 yards of offense, including 41 on the ground, while the Buccaneers had little trouble moving the ball.
Allatoona had 148 of its yards in the first half, including 48 on the go-ahead score.
The Patriots took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter with the offense accounting for just one big play. A long pass play got Heritage into the end zone first as the Patriots looked for a win in the first round for the second straight year.
Heritage made it a two-touchdown game on an interception return, before the Buccaneers rallied.
T.J. Herron got the Buccaneers on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run, before Nathan Shaw's 29-yard field goal pulled them within four, 14-10, with 3:29 left in the second quarter.
As the first half came to a close, Uzee gave Allatoona its first lead of the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Clarence Soleberrry with 9 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
"It was two good ball clubs; I couldn't have come up with a better game but I wish we wouldn't have had the penalties," Frazier said. "It was a good matchup. They're a strong program and they did a great job."