Lightning in the first quarter delayed the football game for more than an hour, but all the thunder came in the second half from region foe Loganville as the Red Devils defeated Heritage 13-6 on a damp night at Charles Evans Memorial Stadium.
The loss dropped the Patriots to 0-3 on the young season, 0-2 in Region 8-AAAAA. Loganville improved to 2-0, 1-0 in region play.
"We just have to do better (on offense)," said Heritage Coach Wendell Early. "Our defense played great - it's vastly improved - the kids played tremendously. As I said, though, we just got to get better (on offense). We got good kids, and we'll come back out on Monday and try to get better."
The entire first half will not make it into either team's highlight video as neither team could establish any momentum.
Loganville received the kickoff and gained 19 quick yards with quarterback Cody Mixon's 12-yard keeper for a first down. Sophomore wide receiver Shy Kim caught a Mixon pass pass for five yards, and he took an inside handoff for two more. But, two consecutive motion penalties stalled the Red Devils drive and they were forced to punt.
Heritage took over at its own 21-yard line, and on third down and three, junior running back Christian Reid (9 carries, 26 yards) took an inside handoff 24 yards to the Loganville 48-yard line. Quarterback Anthony Stanley (1-5 passing, 2 yard, 16 carries for 77 yards) gained 14 yards on a draw play, and it seemed like the Patriots were in business. But, a delay of game penalty on a third down and nine yard made it third and 14 for the Patriots. Reid was thrown for a five-yard loss making it fourth down. Heritage went for the first down on fourth and 19, but Stanley threw incomplete, and Loganville took over on downs at its own 43-yard line with 5:28 to play in the first quarter.
The Red Devils ran one play, a two-yard loss by sophomore running back Darryl Giles Jr., and then the lightning struck.
The officials suspended the game, the stadium was evacuated, and the wait to resume began.
By Georgia High School Association regulation, play cannot resume until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike is recorded.
Not a drop of rain fell during the 1:05 rain delay, but as soon as the teams returned to play at 8:52 p.m., a drizzle started that lasted through the third quarter.
Turnovers, penalties, and a lack of offensive consistency plagued both teams as they played to a 0-0 halftime tie.
Loganville attempted an on-side kick to open the third quarter, but the Patriots recovered and went to work on the Red Devils' 49-yard line. A two-yard run by Reid, a pass for no gain to sophomore wideout Aj Morton and a motion penalty forced a Heritage punt with 10:39 to go in the third quarter.
From the Heritage 30-yard line, Loganville's Giles Jr. (12 carries, 47 yards) ran 10 yards for a first down. But, as had been the case the entire game, the offense bogged down and the Red Devils were forced to punt.
Heritage, however, was held to a three-and-out, and punted back to the Red Devils.
Taking over on its own 17-yard line with 8:25 to go in the quarter, Loganville's offense finally came alive.
Senior quarterback Jadon McClendon (4-6, 91 yards) relieved Mixon (5-5, 35 yards) and provided a spark for the Red Devils. The big play was a 55-yard pass completion to junior Richard Fraser on third down and nine that put the ball on the Patriots 15-yard line. Giles Jr. ran twice for four yards. Then, on third down and six, the oddest play of game occurred. Fraser fumbled the handoff. The ball rolled forward and was recovered by Loganville's Michael Elder at the five-yard line for a Red Devils first down. A four-yard pass from McClendon to Owen put the ball on the one-yard line, and McClendon finished the drive with a one-yard plunge to put Loganville up 6-0. The PAT was good, and the Red Devils led 7-0 with 2:41 to play in the third quarter.
Heritage's Stanley returned the kickoff to the Patriots' 35-yard line. But, a motion penalty, a delay of game penalty and a five-yard loss by relief quarterback Cohin McElligott forced yet another Patriots punt.
The Patriots defense, which played a stout game all night, held the Red Devils offense and forced a punt. Unfortunately, Stanley fumbled the ball, and Loganville recovered on the Heritage 24-yard line at the 9:07 mark of the fourth quarter.
Heritage senior middle linebacker Seth Fallen had a huge tackle on Fraser for an eight-loss, and a McClendon incompletion set up a third and 23 yards from the Patriot 31. McClendon, however, hit Owen on a 26-yard pass play for a first down at the Heritage five-yard line. Two plays later McClendon found Kim in the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT failed, but Loganville was up 13-0 with 7:03 to play in the game.
Heritage would get on the scoreboard when senior quarterback David Turner (4-6, 62 yards passing) tossed a touchdown pass to Branden Lewis with 48.5 seconds left in the game (PAT no good). But, Loganville recovered the on-side kick attempt, took two victory-formation snaps, and escaped with the 13-6 win.
The Patriots will try to break into the win column Friday at Flowery Branch. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.