Heritage (2-3, Region 8-AAAAA) came into the game Friday night against Cedar Shoals after an overwhelming loss to Gainesville (4-0, Region 8-AAAAA). But, it was time for the Patriots to get back on track and pick up a region win.
Cedar Shoals came into the game winless on the season, and they would do everything they could to turn that around. But, Heritage made the plays in fourth quarter to win a tough game 18-13.
From the start, you can tell that both teams had a game plan to bring back old-school football and pound the rock. Both of them felt that they could outmuscle and physically dominate one another in the trenches. Pats' Quarterback Anthony Stanley and Christian Reid led the rushing attack for Heritage doing their damage to Cedar Shoals' defense. Cedar Shoals also accumulated chunks of yards on the ground with its option run offense.
"I'm proud of our kids," Heritage coach Wendell Early said. "We lost our starting quarterback; Anthony stepped in and did a fantastic job of running the ball for us."
Heritage started off the game with an early lead as it took the opening possession 65 yards down the field on 12 plays for a score. Stanley finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Cedar Shoals responded back immediately with a long drive of its own going 65 yards on 10 plays with a touchdown run from Corey Johnson.
Heritage did lose the turnover battle 0-4 as they had back-to-back drives in the second quarter where they fumbled the ball. But, the Patriots got a huge momentum boost before they went into the half. Anthony Stanley connected with Cam Lucas for a 61-yard bomb down the sideline for a touchdown. Heritage took a 12-7 lead into halftime.
Both teams' defense came out strong in the second half after giving up so many yards on the ground in the first half. Heritage turned the ball over twice in third quarter, once on a muffed punt deep in their own territory and second on an errant pass by Anthony Stanley into the end zone and it was picked off.
The referees made their impact in the fourth quarter in dramatic and controversial fashion.
Heritage used some of those flags to their advantage as they capitalized on a couple of penalties thrown on Cedar Shoals' defense that got them into the red zone. Stanley capped the drive off with 12-yard scramble for a touchdown; the Patriots led 18-7 late in the fourth quarter. But, Cedar Shoals responded immediately with 63-yard kickoff return. Two plays later, quarterback Greg Smith cut the lead to 18-13 with a 35-yard scramble down the field for a touchdown.
Heritage went three and out on their next possession and gave the Cedar Shoals the ball with just under three minutes left in the game. Cedars Shoals faced a fourth and inches on the drive. They ran a quarterback sneak to get the first down. The ball was placed and measured for a first down. But, here comes the controversy. The referees met for a second and then called for another measurement. But, this time it seemed as if they moved the ball back a little bit and now they called it short. Heritage took over on down, and from that point ran the clocked out to win the game.