The Heritage football team pulled away from Monte Vista with 21 second-quarter points, and then cruised to the 38-17 first-round victory in the NCS Division I playoffs on Friday night.
The Patriots (7-4) dominated up front during the game, led by a great effort from senior defensive lineman Jett Stanley, who had four sacks. He teamed up with his twin brother Jordan and linebackers Nik Filardo and Moises Cortez to hold Monte Vista (4-7) to less than 30 yards on the ground for the night, including seven sacks of Mustangs’ quarterback Scott Chen.
“Our defensive line played lights out all night,” said Heritage coach Don Sanders. “They controlled the trenches throughout the game and put a ton of pressure on the quarterback.”
Monte Vista actually drew first blood in the game, when the Mustangs went 97 yards in a flash. Three straight passes from Chen covered 96 yards, as he hit John Giagiari for a 36-yard gain, then Ryan Colonna over the middle for 43 yards. The drive culminated with a screen pass to Zane Cribb, who went down the right sideline for the 17-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first quarter. The lead, however, was short-lived.
It took Heritage just over a minute to respond to the Mustangs’ initial score, as Luke Lang hit a wide-open Hassan Williams for the 47-yard touchdown to tie the game, triggering a string of 31 straight points for the Patriots.
After the first quarter ended with the teams knotted at seven, Heritage drove 86 yards to open the second quarter, capped by Aidan Quinn’s 20-yard touchdown, bouncing outside to his left to out-run the Monte Vista defense. Quinn finished the game with 149 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
“It was great to come out here tonight and run through some huge holes created by my offensive line,” Quinn said. “All the credit goes to those guys up front. They dominated this game.”
With three minutes left in the first half, Heritage lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the nine-yard line. As the holder, however, Quinn saw Monte Vista rushing off the edge, and pulled the ball off the ground to scoot around the defense for an easy touchdown on the fake, extending the lead to 21-7.
“I knew I was going to pull the ball the second I put my knee on the ground,” Quinn said. “I saw how they were lined up, and how they were coming after it.”
If that wasn’t bad enough for the visiting Mustangs, things got worse when Monte Vista had to punt from deep in its own territory on the ensuing possession, and Williams returned the kick all the way to the Mustangs’ four-yard line, a 48-yard return. Lang capitalized on the great field position with a two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal, giving the Patriots a 28-7 lead as both teams headed to the locker room.
Things quieted down in the third, as Skylar Henry’s 28-yard field goal accounted for the only points, making it 31-7 heading into the final quarter. Monte Vista’s Matt Hoffman got three back on the board for the Mustangs early in the fourth quarter, with his 42-yard field goal, but Heritage needed just two plays to respond, as Quinn burst free for a 38-yard score.
Monte Vista closed out the scoring when Cribb took his fifth interception of the year back for a touchdown, with less than two minutes remaining.
Heritage advances to the quarterfinals, where the Patriots will meet cross-town rival Liberty, who is the top seed in the bracket. The Lions won the regular season meeting back in late September, holding on for the 17-14 victory by stopping Heritage at the two-yard line in the final minute.
“I’ve been waiting for another shot at them since the clock hit zeros (in the first game),” Quinn said.
Chen led the Monte Vista offense with 218 yards passing, completing 13 of 24 passes. Giagiari had four catches for 86 yards. Cribb had 73 yards receiving, but just 33 yards on 11 carries, thanks to the Heritage front seven defensively.
“We worked hard all week, and mixed up our speed rushes with power rushes and some great stunts,” said Jett Stanley. “We were able to stay unpredictable, and that led to a lot of our success.”
In addition to Quinn running for 149 yards, Lang completed 14 of 19 passes for 267 yards, including going a perfect 9-for-9 in the second half. Josh Wishom had six catches for 118 yards to lead all receivers.