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Heritage falters in final minutes at Middle Creek

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CARY — Heritage’s football team climbed back into their game at Middle Creek down 21-0 at halftime, but it wasn’t enough as the Huskies fell short of a comeback with a 27-21 loss Friday night.

Heritage finished the night with 23 total incompletions on offense, the last one being on a fourth and nine attempt with 1:41 left in the contest. The defeat marks the second year in a row Heritage lost to Middle Creek, as the Mustangs took them down 28-24 in a close contest last season.

“This was a flashback to last year,” Heritage head coach Wallace Clark said. “We held on a little bit defensively and offensively we made some mistakes. We did some great things in the third quarter and got closer. The guys can be as good as they want to be. Now we have to look at next week.”

Middle Creek drew first blood with a 12-yard touchdown run three minutes into the game. With 4:38 left in the second quarter, there was a lightning delay that went on for more than an hour. After the teams took the field and resumed play, Middle Creek was back to scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run and then a 34-yard touchdown pass less than a minute later.

Heritage had five dropped passes in just the first half alone, which helped contribute to a scoreless first half as Middle Creek went into halftime up 21-0.

Heritage didn’t score their first points of the evening until midway through the third quarter. Right after an interception from Brodrick Gooch, Heritage quarterback Walker Harris threw a deep pass to Whit Kane who took it 37 yards for the touchdown.

The Huskies capitalized on two interceptions in the quarter, with the second one being a 90-yard pick-six from linebacker Luke Maicon less than two minutes after Kane’s touchdown.

It seemed as if momentum had shifted to Heritage’s side. However, Middle Creek took back control of the game after a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. That put the Mustangs up 27-14 with 9:14 left in the game after a failed extra point attempt.

There was a spark of hope for the Huskies after Harris threw his second touchdown pass of the game to Josh Crabtree on a 16-yard reception with 4:46 left in the contest. After the extra point, the score was 27-21.

Middle Creek tried to run out the clock, but they were forced to punt the ball back to Heritage with just over two minutes left in the game. On fourth down and nine with 1:41 left, Harris overthrew Kane and the ball hit the ground, turning the ball back over to Middle Creek. The Mustangs held on and won the game.

“We had a lot of first game jitters,” Clark said. “I’m not going to put the incompletions on our offense as the main reason it struggled. We have to go back and look at the details.”

Harris finished the night with 193 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Crabtree led the Huskies with six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Kane snagged four passes for 78 yards and the other touchdown.

Trey Holloway led the Huskies with 39 yards on the ground. Corey Peterson logged two sacks and both Gooch and Maicon recorded an interception each for Heritage.

Heritage will play South Garner at home Friday at 7 p.m. Clark said if his players can focus on the little things, it will translate into their first win of the season.

“We’re going to look at the game film and see how we can better coach these young men,” Clark said. “We have to make sure the detail-oriented stuff is taken care of. Hopefully, the other stuff like catching the ball, blocking, tackling and special teams will come through for us in the next game.”

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