Conyers Harrison Kulp kicked a 24-yard field goal with a minute to play, sending Heritage to a 9-7 victory over Northgate in a defensive struggle at Evans Memorial Stadium.
Heritage (1-0), coming off a record-setting season where it won 10 games and the school's first-ever region championship, trailed 7-3 at halftime but its defense pitched a second half shut out. That allowed Kulp, who was 3-for-4 in field goal attempts on the night, to kick the game-winner, which followed a 40-yard completion on a fade route from Ryan Sutton to Steven Everson.
"Pretty exciting," said Patriots coach Chad Frazier. "Defensive battle, it was very defensively intense for both teams, which I knew it would be. (There were) about seven division one players if you combine both teams."
Northgate (0-1), which like Heritage won its region and reached the second round of the state playoffs in 2011, took a 7-3 lead right before halftime. But that was all the visiting Vikings would get against a stout Heritage defense.
"Our linebackers played outstanding, all four of those guys," Frazier said. "Defensively we had some timely sacks, three or four sacks, we were really getting after that quarterback. They had a tough time running the football."