The defending Region 8-AAAA champion Heritage Patriots came into Friday night's game against Winder-Barrow with something to prove. Following a loss to Gainesville, the Patriots got back on track against the winless Bulldoggs with a 37-12 road win.
The Bulldoggs defense started well, or so it thought after forcing Heritage to set up for a punt on their first possession. However, the Patriots shocked Winder with a fake punt that resulted in a 62-yard touchdown run by senior Tyler Weaver. The entire Bulldoggs defense turned their back, thinking the ball had already been punted, but by the time they noticed, it was 7-0, Heritage.
By the end of the first quarter, the Patriots built a 21-0 lead and had complete control of the game. Sophomore Obe Fortune scored on a 25-yard reverse and quarterback Ryan Sutton hit a wide-open Chase Alford for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
"We wanted to get up early and we knew if we let them (Winder-Barrow) hang around, that it would a tough game," said Heritage head coach Chad Frazier. "We ran the fake punt and were fortunate and then ran the reverse and thought we were OK at that point."
The Patriots secondary was on top of their game, intercepting two first half passes that set up two touchdowns. Turnovers can quickly change a game and momentum and that was certainly the case in this one. "We work a lot in practice with creating turnovers and I was proud of our secondary with the interceptions early," said Frazier. "Then, we tried to pound the ball and take the air out of it and that was sort of our game plan."
The game plan worked well, as the Patriots ran the ball the majority of the second half with running back Myron Fears taking the majority of the carries. Written on the back of his shoes, the senior has inscribed "Fears" and "Fearless" and he lived up to those inscriptions with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown on 12 carries.
The bright spot for the Bulldoggs was the play of senior running back Chad Platt. After Winder-Barrow trailed 34-0 towards the end of the first-half, Platt scored on a 88-yard kickoff return. "I picked it up and just ran to daylight and that was pretty much it," said Platt.
That was the first of two touchdowns for Platt, the second coming on the last play of the game as he took a handoff around the right side of the line for a 59-yard touchdown run. "The first half, we came out a little sloppy, but the second half we picked it up and blocked better and that's what set it up," said Platt. "I'll give credit to my boys for blocking on that one." Platt led the Bulldoggs with 203 all-purpose yards.
The passing game was used only sporadically and was fairly successful for the Patriots. Patriots quarterback Ryan Sutton completed five of 11 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
Heritage moved to 5-1 and 3-1 in the region, while Winder-Barrow dropped to 0-5 and 0-3 in region 8-AAAAA.