While the Patriots can look back on their regular season with a sense of accomplishment, they might look back on this game with a groan of what might have been. Heritage’s first three possessions essentially decided the outcome of the contest: punt, fumble and interception.
After Heritage’s first punt, Deer Valley needed only five plays to get on the board. Collins blew through the line and headed for the sidelines for a 75-yard TD jaunt.
After going three-and-out, Heritage’s snap on the punt attempt sailed over the head of Chazz Griffiths. It was recovered by Wolverine John Lewis, giving Deer Valley first-and-goal on the 10. They had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from junior Brierly Lindberg for a 10-0 lead.
The Patriots’ next possession was even shorter. A half-back option play was wide open for a touchdown, but the pass was underthrown, intercepted in Heritage territory and returned to the Patriots 19. Four plays later Brandon Williams punched in a three-yard score for a 17-0 lead.
But as the quarter wound down, the Patriots began to move the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, what had started as a promising drive ended in disaster when quarterback Brent Eikanas was intercepted by Brandon Williams, who broke on an out pattern and raced 86 yards for a “pick-six” and a 24-0 lead.
Heritage recovered an onside kick to start the second half, but another turnover gave Deer Valley the ball near midfield. Heritage’s defense forced a turnover on downs with 7:51 remaining in the third. A methodical 12-play drive ended in a six-yard TD run by Tyler McDonald, narrowing the deficit to 24-6.
Another three-and-out for the Wolverines gave Heritage possession at its 31 with the quarter winding down. This time, an equally-impressive 14-play drive resulted in a seven-yard score by Kruger Story Jr. – and, surprisingly, the Patriots were back in the game, trailing 24-12.
The Patriots defense rose to the occasion, forcing another turnover on downs. Starting on their own six, the Patriots finally got a really big play when Eikanas hit wide receiver Devin Hardy for a 67-yard gain to the Deer Valley 31. Eikanas capped the drive with a terrific 37-yard completion to junior Davonte Lewis for the touchdown, drawing the Patriots within six, 24-18, with 2:27 remaining.
But the expected onside kick trickled out of bounds, giving the Wolverines the ball at midfield. Brandon Williams sealed the game with a 50-yard sprint to the house and victory.
Undefeated Deer Valley has, of course, won the Bay Valley League Championship and is in the NCS playoffs as the number 2 seed. The Wolverines host 6-4 Newark Memorial 7 p.m. tonight Nov. 20. Heritage (7-3 overall, 3-2 BVAL) is also in the playoffs, on the road tonight at 7-3 Monte Vista.