CONYERS -- For all intents and purposes, Thursday's showdown between county rivals Heritage and Rockdale was over before the first 12 minutes could be completed at Reid Stadium. Class AAAA No. 10 Heritage scored 14 first-quarter points, all off Rockdale turnovers, and was never challenged in a 41-0 victory in the 32nd meeting between the schools.
The Patriots, whose margin of victory Thursday was the second-highest in the rivalry's history, stayed unbeaten at 4-0 and continued the program's best start since the 1998 team won its first five games under current athletic director Chuck Landy.
"That was our goal, to come out and dominate," said Heritage coach Chad Frazier.
The game had historical significance as channel 2.2, WSB-TV's second digital channel, televised the game live, while it also streamed live on wsbtv.com.
Heritage looked like it enjoyed the spotlight a bit more than its neighbor.
The visitors caught the first break of the game midway through the first quarter when Rockdale tailback Deon Holder fumbled on his own 24-yard line. The Patriots offense got a key, third down pass completion when Ryan Sutton hooked up with Dominic Craft, who caught the ball off his fingertips for a 17-yard gain that set up first and goal. Though it appeared the drive had stalled after a pair of penalties wiped out scoring plays, Heritage set up for a 33-yard field goal, but faked the kick and the holder Sutton found a wide-open Dustyn Moore for a 16-yard touchdown that put the visitors up 7-0.
The Bulldogs' turnover problems continued and Heritage took advantage again. Zach Powell's pass went right into the hands of Chase Alford and the star linebacker returned it 17 yards to the Rockdale 24. Craft carried 12 yards to the Bulldogs' two-yard line, then on the next play punched it in for a 14-point lead after one quarter.
"Turnovers can swing momentum in your favor," Frazier said.
Rockdale could only muster 29 total yards and two first downs in the first half as Heritage's size advantage on the defensive line was overwhelming.
"Defensive line was very dominant, our whole defense. I was really pleased with how our defense (played)," said Frazier.
Quami Stanley, who is making an early case for Region 8-AAAA offensive player of the year, picked up a pair of touchdowns before halftime to extend the lead. Following a recovered on-sides kick, he capped an eight-play drive, breaking a tackle at the two and rumbling from five yards out. Then with 9:32 left he scampered 19 yards for a 28-0 lead.
The teams trudged through an ugly third quarter (32 combined total yards), but Heritage went up 34-0 on the second play of the fourth when Sutton found Chase Alford in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Sutton's one-yard plunge capped the scoring and the Patriots defense, which held Rockdale (1-3) to 41 total yards, did the rest.