CONYERS - For the second straight week, mistakes and missed opportunities spelled doom for Heritage.
Habersham Central's Kevin Ellison scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the game as the Raiders (1-1) rallied to claim a 13-12 win over the Patriots (0-2) at Evans Memorial Stadium.
"Well, the missed opportunity down there (in the red zone in the first quarter) and (the missed) kick, that one as well, hurt us," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said. "We had a personal foul on a quarterback that extended one of their drives. The kids have worked so hard, and I thought we had everything in place tonight. It's just the little things, the ball-handling, the penalties; it's the same old, same old things hurting us. We just have to overcome those things."
In the first quarter, the Patriots missed two chances to open up an early advantage.
First, running back Eian Williams lost a fumble at the Habersham Central 7-yard line. And then on the next series, kicker Tyler Peoples hit the right upright on a 45-yard field goal attempt.
The Patriots finally scored their first touchdown of the season with 6:07 left in the third quarter.
Williams broke loose for a 30-yard run to start the drive, and later quarterback Andre Wilson converted a fourth-and-2 at the Raider 45.
Three plays later, Wilson hooked up with Garry Peters for a 28-yard strike to the Raider 12 on third-and-18.
Williams capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown, but the extra point was blocked, giving Heritage a 6-0 advantage.
Habersham Central took its first lead of the game on its next possession.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Heritage 30, Ellison took a toss right and raced 30 yards for the score with 2:04 left in the third quarter. Josh Welborn added the PAT for a 7-6 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots responded with a 99-yard drive for the go-ahead score.
Devon Holmes provided the key play with a 62-yard burst up the middle, taking the ball all the way down to the Raider 22.
Four plays later, Peoples missed a 36-yard field goal attempt, but Habersham Central flagged for roughing kicker.
Heritage didn't waste its new found opportunity.
Holmes took the toss left and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run with 3:56 remaining in the game. The Patriots failed on a two-point conversion and held a 12-7 advantage.
But Habersham Central wasn't finished.
Quarterback Austin Brown found Chuck Rucker for a 28-yard gain into Heritage territory at the 48. Two plays later, the same duo hooked up again for 14 yards down to the 16.
With less than 45 seconds remaining, the Raiders faced a fourth-and-14 at the Heritage 22.
Once again, Brown and Rucker struck for Habersham Central, this time on a pass over the middle for 20 yards to the 2.
"They hit like a drag or dig over the middle (on fourth down)," Frazier said. "We'd seen it, but they hadn't show a ton of it. I'm sure they said this is our go-to play right here. Unfortunately, we couldn't get to the quarterback on time or cover the route."
Ellison scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play by hurdling the line of scrimmage.
The Patriots had one last chance, but Peters was not able to make a circus catch along the near sideline with 2 seconds left that would have set up a potential game-winning field goal try.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.