Photo by Brian Giandelone
CONYERS -- It wasn't the prettiest victory, but Heritage will take it.
Quami Stanley took an option pitch and ran, un-touched for a 15-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime, and the Patriots survived after Winder-Barrow kicker Cesar Saucedo missed the potential tying extra point in a 14-13 victory.
Trailing 14-7, the visiting Bulldoggs got a key pass interference penalty on a fourth-and-nine to set up first-and-goal at the seven. Four plays later, Christian Hodge rumbled in from a yard out to make it a 14-13 game. Saucedo's extra point attempt sailed wide left.
"That was a big play for us, we finally excited the option like we're supposed to. I'm happy with that," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said of Stanley's touchdown burst. "Just proud of our kids overall, the resiliency to stay in there and fight for four quarters."
After an uneventful first 20 minutes, Winder-Barrow got the first break of the game with four minutes to play in the second quarter. Heritage fumbled a punt and B.J. Worley pounced on the loose ball to set up the Bulldoggs inside the Heritage 25-yard line. After a big, eight-yard run by Jonathon Hall on third-and-six and a circus catch by Dante Jones to get Winder to the two, C.J. Hall rumbled in from a yard out to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Heritage appeared to be on its way to tying the game after a bizarre sequence. First, Heritage quarterback Isaiah Spencer was intercepted by Hogan Anderson, and the Bulldoggs were at the Heritage five-yard line. Hodge returned the favor, getting his pass tipped and intercepted by Casey Thomas in the back of the end zone. That's when things went haywire. Thomas returned the pick 107 yards for an apparent touchdown, but two 15-yard Patriots' penalties-one a block in the back, the other a personal foul-negated the score and let Winder escape with its halftime lead.
Heritage fumbled on consecutive possessions in the third quarter, but Winder couldn't take advantage, punting twice following three-and-out possessions.
The Patriots were penalized nine times for 83 yards to go along with the four turnovers, letting Winder, which fell to 0-6, hang around.
"Lot of frustration," Frazier said. "Penalties and turnovers, and it always goes back to that, you can do a lot of things well, but if you're undisciplined and you got penalties and turnovers you're going to find yourself in a fight even with a team that's struggling right now, and (Winder) came out ready to play and hats off to coach (David) Wagner and his staff and those kids. But we got to clean some things up, it's disappointing. We're better than the ball game we played. We can't play games like this every week. I'm always proud of our kids effort, they're going to always give us effort. I just want to be better, I want to clean some things up and execute better."
After the second punt, the Patriots finally dented the scoreboard, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive with Travis Martin's 16-yard touchdown run that made it 7-7 with five minutes to play in regulation. Heritage had a chance to take the lead with under two minutes left in the fourth, but Tyler Peoples' 51-yard field goal came up short.