In the third quarter of the Patriots’ 55-21 win, Heritage broke a 21-21 tie with a 9-yard touchdown run by senior halfback Kruger Story Jr. A Panther player dropped a short kickoff, giving the ball right back to the Patriots, who scored a few seconds later on a 43-yard Story Jr. run.
Antioch lost any momentum it had after those big touchdowns, and Heritage proceeded to roll, in new white uniforms.
“I was just thinking that we had to go out and get a drive together,” Patriot head coach Jeff Haagenson said. “We thought we could score every time we have the ball. We feel that way every time.”
Story Jr. led the Heritage offense with 156 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. Senior RB Treyvon Hanna ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Jeremiah Poti also contributed 53 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots, who advanced to 7-2 overall (3-1 Bay Valley Athletic League).
Senior quarterback Brent Eikanas passed for 187 yards, completing 5-of-7 including a 25-yard TD pass to senior receiver Dorian Hardy.
“We didn’t expect them to tie it up with us, we expected to just come out and put them away,” Hanna said. “We’re a second half team, so we came back and put them away. We found a way.”
Prior to the two quick touchdowns, it looked as if Antioch might make it a competitive game. Down 21-7 in the second quarter, Shamawn Wright blazed his way down the field for a 90-yard kick return to make the score 21-14.
Early in the third quarter, another big play electrified the home crowd on senior night and planted the thought of an upset in the minds of the Panthers. Wright caught a pass from senior QB Billy Cloninger, zigged and zagged a bit, then ran for an 85-yard score to tie it up.
“We hung with a very good team; we did very well,” Antioch head coach John Lucido said. “The whole team was very excited, but I think we made a mistake and kind of took the air out a little bit. I’m proud of them.”
Cloninger threw for 181 yards (118 to Wright), one touchdown and one interception.
With the loss, the Panthers dropped to 1-8 overall (0-4 BVAL).
The Patriots will face a tough league opponent in Deer Valley on Friday while the Panthers will host Pittsburg on Saturday for the Big Little Game.
Heritage’s junior varsity team also claimed a win, 27-21, over Antioch. The Panthers looked poised to at least tie the game with about two minutes left. A big run by running back Elbert Hamilton put Antioch deep into Patriot territory, but a fumble on the next play gave the ball back to Heritage.
The Patriots advanced to 6-3 overall, while the Panthers fell to 2-7.