by Marty Simpkins
photos by Clellie Allen
HOLLY SPRINGS — It was fourth down in Heritage’s red zone with less than 30 seconds to go and Holly Springs was looking for the win. Quarterback Justin Armwood dropped back to pass and the Huskies’ pass rush was closing in.
Armwood threw the ball and it landed just a yard short of his intended receiver and Heritage won their first game of the season at Holly Springs 13-7 on a defensive stand.
“We had a good feeling of what play (Holly Springs) was going to run on that last drive and our players did a good job of getting in the right spot,” said Heritage coach Jason McGeorge. “When you’re tired, the key is to stick with your technique and continue to play. I feel like that’s what our young men did tonight.”
In the first half, the Huskies scored two touchdowns: a 47-yard pass from senior Blake Walters to senior John McCaffity and a 2-yard pile-driving run up the middle by senior running back Matt Baker.
The defense held Holly Springs’ offense to just 15 total yards in the first half and also recovered a fumble. Once the third quarter hit, things started going the Golden Hawks’ way.
“Holly Springs did a good job adjusting coming out of halftime,” said McGeorge. “I give credit to Coach Bragg and having some adjustments to our defense. He did a good job and we beat a good football team and I’m happy with that.”
Down 13-0 at halftime, Holly Springs finally got on the board when senior running back Nehemiah Harris ran it in from 6 yards out with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
Fatigue played a huge role in the game for the Huskies. Combined with the 80-degree weather and merciless humidity, the players struggled in the second half.
“We were tired,” McGeorge said. “There might have been a few other factors, but we play a lot of players both ways. The first full game playing this many plays probably put a toll on them.”
Heritage kept missing opportunities to put the game away and that allowed Holly Springs to drive down the field on the last drive.
“First game you’re going to do some things wrong,” McGeorge said. “We’ve got to improve our special teams and we got to put the ball in the end zone. We had three chances to score touchdowns and came away with no points. So that puts a lot of pressure on our defense, but they kept rising to the challenge and helped us escape.”
Holly Springs couldn’t convert on fourth down with 22 seconds left in the game and Heritage came out as winners. Their next game will be their home opener against Rolesville.
“It was a tough win,” said McGeorge. “I like the way that we fought. We let some points slip away a couple of times in the game, but our defense stepped up and our program needed a win like this. It was a hot and humid night, but our players kept playing and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”