MOUNT AIRY - Heritage's hopes of a state playoff berth came crashing down Friday night in Mount Airy as the Patriots fell victim to the new juggernauts of 8-AAAA North - Habersham Central.
The Raiders proved to be as good as advertised, topping the Patriots 28-0 and earning a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs for a second straight year.
It didn't take long for the Raiders to get on the scoreboard, going 67 yards in eight plays on the game's opening drive. Quarterback Bo Hatchett scrambled in from nine yards out for the touchdown to cap the scoring drive. After a Scott Hulsey extra point, Habersham led 7-0 with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
Heritage took its opening drive and went 48 yards on five plays. However, the drive stalled after Zach Cheek was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Habersham 39-yard line.
Habersham took over on downs and put together another eight-play drive. This one covered 61 yards and culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run by Robert Renshaw. The extra point made it 14-0 with 4:12 left in the opening quarter.
Heritage got great field position on the next drive after a shanked kick gave the Patriots the ball at the 45.
But the ensuing drive only went 20 yards, and the Patriots were stuffed on another fourth-and-1 play.
Heritage's best defensive stand of the first half preceded the Patriots' most promising offensive drive of the half.
Heritage sacked Hatchett twice on the defensive stand and eventually forced the Raiders to punt on a fourth-and-41. Heritage took over and moved the ball down field quickly for a pair of first downs. However, on a first-and-10 from Habersham's 42, Heritage quarterback Kenny Seabolt was picked off at the 4-yard line.
The Raiders took over and put together their most impressive drive of the game - a 12-play, 96-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Renshaw with 28 seconds left in the first half.
Heritage went into the locker room down 21-0 at the break.
The Raiders rushed 23 times for 117 yards and passed 17 times for 134 yards for a total of 251 yards in the first half. The Raiders also accumulated 14 first downs to Heritage's five.
Hatchett was 10 of 17 for 134 yards in the first half, while Seabolt completed 6 of 11 for 56 yards. Heritage rushed for just 13 yards on nine carries in the first half.
Habersham's two-headed rushing attack was equally balanced in the first half. Zach Chitwood rushed seven times for 57 yards, while Renshaw carried it nine times for 56. Tavarres King caught six passes for 97 yards in the first half.
Tim Parker gave Heritage a spark on the first play of the second half with a 50-yard run. However, Seabolt was picked off on the next play.
Fortunately for the Patriots, Habersham fumbled three plays later and Heritage took over on the Raiders 35-yard line.
Heritage could do nothing with the ball and actually went backward on the next drive, having to punt the ball back to the Raiders.
But once again, Habersham fumbled the ball back to the Patriots, this time, on the 37-yard line. Unfortunately, Heritage didn't get any closer than before and turned the ball over on downs.
Habersham's third fumble of the third quarter gave the Patriots the ball back at their own 36-yard line.
But again, Heritage could do nothing on offense.
Habersham eventually went up 28-0 with 3:07 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Chitwood.
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com.