by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — Friday night’s game between the Heritage and Millbrook High School football teams was a battle every step of the way.
It was everything a heavyweight fight should be as both teams made serious blows to their opponent.
Heritage was ahead first before the Wildcats scored two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter.
And in the end, Millbrook was able to make the final punch and throw a wet blanket over the Huskies Homecoming celebration when they intercepted a pass in the end zone with 46 seconds left in the game to secure a 21-16 Cap 8 Conference victory.
“The difference came down to basically making the last play,” said Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore, “and we were fortunate to make the last play.”
A pass from Husky quarterback Blake Williams that was intended for Charles Johnson was picked off by Millbrook defensive back Raul Oquendo and any Heritage good fortune ended then and there.
“I’m proud of my team,” said Heritage coach Jason McGeorge. “Millbrook is an extremely good football team and they are strong and athletic.”
“The players fought hard and we had a chance to win the game,” McGeorge added. “I could see the disappointment in their faces.”
The win lifted Millbrook to a three-way tie in the league with Wakefield and Leesville Road, all with 4-1 records. Heritage, 2-3 in the conference and 5-4 overall, has sole possession of third place in the Cap 8 standings.
“Heritage is a very tough, physical team and they are well-coached,” Inscore said. “I expected a close game and one we would have to battle to win.”
The two teams started the game similarly as neither was able to put any points on the board with their first two possessions.
On the Wildcats third possession, Johnson intercepted a Reid Herring pass and a few plays later, the Huskies were deep in Millbrook territory.
Heritage’ s attempt to get on the scoreboard with 4:18 left in the first quarter failed when Matt Sattler’s 37-yard field goal was short.
The Huskies did get the first points on the board, getting a five yard scoring run from Abdul Sesay with 7:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Sattler’s point after kick gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead. Sesay led Heritage’s running game with 78 yards on 21 carries.
Heritage’s defense then forced a quick three and out that ended when Jalen Parson deflected a Millbrook pass, forcing the Wildcats to punt.
Millbrook responded after holding the Huskies on a fourth and short situation and taking over the ball at Heritage’s 29 yard line. They capitalized and tied the game at 7-7 after Herring connected with Brian Miller on a five yard reception with 56 seconds left in the first half.
“If we made that first down, that’s an energy setter for us and our players get momentum,” McGeorge said of his decision to go for a first down. “Not making that first down backfired on us but these things will happen.”
The Huskies pushed ahead 13-7 in the third quarter when Sesay ran in from 6 yards out.
“We came out having energy in the second half,” McGeorge said.
Undaunted, Millbrook pushed back immediately, moving in front 14-13 when Herring hooked up with Miller again for a 25-yard score with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats scored again after forcing Heritage to punt. They drove 72 yards in six plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass between Herring and wide receiver Brandon Goldsmith to extend their lead to 21-13.
Heritage started driving the ball on its next possession and reached midfield but a fumble by Seasay gave the ball back to Millbrook.
After a Wildcat punt, the Huskies added its last three points to the scoreboard with 10:51 left in the game when Sattler kicked a 32-yard field goal.
The Huskies were not going away easy as they made it into Wildcat territory once again after stopping Millbrook on a fourth and sixth.
“I probably should have punted on that fourth down,” Inscore said, “but I had confidence in my defense and offense. Heritage made a great play and stopped us, but our defense responded with a turnover.”
The Wildcats Sam Blue stripped the football away from Walters and Heritage’s possession was short-lived.
“These turnovers set us back,” McGeorge said.
“But overall, we played a lot better and we want to be in these games if we want to win,” he added. “It was a great, emotional game and our student section was incredible again.”
Walters completed 11 of 20 passes for the Huskies for 239 yards. Herring had 18 completions on 29 attempts for 198 yards and both quarterbacks threw one interception.
Defensively, T J Crowther paced Heritage with six tackles. Jeff Gemmell added five.
McGeorge said his team gained some confidence in this game despite losing.
“We set ourselves up to win,” he said. “It’s a tough Cap 8 Conference and we’re glad to be in the mix.”
Heritage will travel to Wakefield tomorrow (Friday). Kick-off is 7 pm.
“In regards to Wakefield, just like the last three weeks, we expect a very tough opponent,” McGeorge said. “They have had a lot of success this season.”
“We need to have an excellent week of practice, eliminate turnovers and we will compete our tails off.”