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Apalachee nearly upsets unbeaten Heritage

CONYERS — Heritage’s defense stopped Apalachee when it had to by creating turnovers and held on for a 22-17 homecoming win on Friday.

“The defense did a great job of bending but not breaking, creating turnovers and when we had to make plays we made plays,” Heritage head coach Chad Frazier said. “The two turnovers that we scored on made the difference. You have to capitalize on turnovers. A year ago that was us committing those turnovers and a couple of times it cost us.”

Heritage (5-0) started the game taking control with an 82-yard, 11-play drive in the second possession to take the lead on a Quami Stanley run of two yards with 3:05 left in the first period to take the lead. It was the hosts’ only score that was not as a result of a turnover.

Apalachee answered with a seven-play drive, capping it when Clint Ashe found Jermaine Smith in the end zone on a 48-yard pass with no time left on the clock. The Wildcats then took the lead on a 41-yard field goal by Christian Vasquez.

After Heritage’s offense went three-and-out for the second time in the second quarter, the Patriots defense came out on a full blitz, causing Ashe to fumble the ball. Heritage recovered the ball on the 34-yard line and took it to the end zone with 1:34 left in the half. However, the Patriots did not just march the ball down the field with ease. Three plays before Myron Fears took it the final four yards, Heritage quarterback Mario Gaines had to make a first down on a fourth-and-five from the 16.

Turnovers also hit the Patriots’ offense as the Wildcats intercepted Mario Gaines on the Heritage 23-yard line.

As the Wildcats were driving, Heritage’s defense caused second fumble.

It looked like the Wildcats’ defense was going to stop Heritage but Dominic Craft was able to take the ball around the left side for an 80-yard touchdown run.

But Apalachee still did not give up. Following the touchdown, the Wildcats, with the help of a 49-yard pass from Ashe to Stanley Williams, scored with 3:10 left in the game on an 8-yard Williams run. But the Patriots were able to get the pooch kick and held the ball for the win.

“We have a good football team. We have a lot of adversity out there but we have kids like (Ashe) who play their tails off for us,” Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said. “We turned it over inside the five with a chance to take the lead. Then we fumbled the ball in the first half that led to a touchdown then we had a touchdown called back. You can’t do that against good teams.”