CONYERS - Heritage showed flashes of brilliance Friday night at Evans Memorial Stadium, but the Patriots couldn't beat Clarke Central or the lightning.
The Gladiators (4-1) scored two second-quarter touchdowns and held on for a 14-10 decision over the Patriots (1-4). The game was stopped for a 25-minute lightning delay with 2:09 left in the first half.
Before the stoppage, there were plenty of fireworks.
Heritage took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, marching 48 yards on five plays. Eian Williams' 14-yard run and Tyrone Brown's 21-yard gain to the 2 were the key plays in the drive.
Quarterback Andre Wilson scored from two yards out on a sneak, giving Heritage a 7-0 advantage with 18.8 seconds left in the opening period.
The second quarter belonged to the Gladiators and the lightning.
The Gladiators put together a 15-play drive to tie the game.
Facing a fourth-and-12 at the Heritage 35, Clarke Central quarterback Martay Mattox found Dimitri Holmes for 14 yards and a first down at the 21.
Five plays later, Mattox went back to pass, but, finding no open receivers, he scrambled to his right, scoring inside the pylon from 5 yards out at 6:30.
Only 3:21 later, Clarke Central took the lead for good.
On second down, Mattox connected with Dontae Watkins for a 41-yard connection to the Heritage 4.
After a pass interference penalty, Holmes took the sweep right and scored a 2-yard touchdown with 3:09 left in the half.
Shortly after that, the game was stopped due to lightning in the area.
Once the game resumed, both defenses took control.
In fact, Heritage's defense set up the second half's only points when Nigel Taylor recovered a fumble at the Clarke Central 20.
Devon Holmes' 12-yard run gave Heritage a first-and-goal at the 7.
However, the Gladiators kept the Patriots out of the end zone, setting up Tyler Peoples' 22-yard field goal at 3:07 that cut Clarke Central's lead down to 14-10.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Gladiators appeared to be in control when Holmes made a circus catch on the far sideline for a 36-yard gain into Heritage territory.
Clarke Central opted to go for it on fourth down at the Heritage 37, but Patriots defensive back Nick Starks delivered a jarring hit to knock loose a potential completion and first down.
The Patriots took over on their own 37 and using runs by Wilson, Williams and Brown worked their way into Clarke Central territory with 1:31 to play.
However, Wilson's pass was intercepted by Gladiator linebacker Rush Maxwell, who returned the ball 69 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, an illegal block wiped out the score.
Clarke Central was able to run out the clock after Mattox scrambled for a first down in the final 30 seconds.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.