FLOWERY BRANCH — Last weekend, the Heritage football team came back from 17 points down and hung on for a three-point win over Clarke Central. Friday, the Patriots got a taste of their own medicine.
Flowery Branch erased a 21-point first half deficit, getting touchdowns on four consecutive third quarter possessions to stun Heritage 35-27 at Falcon Field.
The Falcons won their sixth consecutive game and improved to 6-2 and 6-0 in Region 8-AAAAA, while Heritage fell to 6-2 and 4-2.
The Hall County school trailed 27-6 at halftime, but got back in the game quickly. On consecutive third-quarter possessions, the Falcons got a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jackson McDonald, then an interception by Quinton Mayfield of Heritage’s Isaiah Spencer.
Two runs for 34 yards by Justin Curry, including a 26-yard touchdown scamper, got the hosts to within 27-21 midway through the third.
Spencer, who was coming off an excellent performance off the bench in the win over Clarke, struggled Friday. The senior was intercepted three more times, two of which led to the final two Falcons’ touchdowns as McDonald hooked up with Darius Curry (30 yards) and Jamaad Stephens (17) to make it a 35-27 game with four minutes left in the third.
Neither team would score the rest of the way.
In the final 16 minutes of the game, Heritage had three chances to try to score and get a two-point conversion to tie, but one possession ended on a punt and the final two drives stalled at the 37- and 45-yard lines of Flowery Branch.
“Turnovers, short fields, couldn’t stop the run. Their guys made plays, our guys didn’t,” Heritage coach Chad Frazier said.
Heritage began to build its big halftime cushion right away, quieting a festive homecoming crowd. The Patriots scored twice within the first two minutes of the game, thanks to a pair of Flowery Branch fumbles. On the game’s opening possession, Justin Curry fumbled and Patriots linebacker Dominique Packer scooped up the loose ball and scored from 36 yards.
It took the Falcons just one play to turn the ball over a second time. Curry caught a quick pass from Jackson McDonald, but Curry lost the ball and Dustyn Moore fell on it. Blessed with excellent field position at the 14-yard line, it took Heritage just three plays to score again, and Tyler Weaver’s four-yard touchdown plunge made it a 14-0 game with 10:05 to play in the first.
Justin Curry made up for his fumble with a six-yard touchdown for Flowery Branch’s only points of the half.
Heritage answered immediately as Weaver showed outstanding breakaway speed, taking a hand-off on a draw play and exploding down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown and a 24-6 cushion.
Harrison Kulp made the second of his two first-half field goals, this time from 22 yards to push the lead out to 27-6. But Heritage’s offense was done scoring for the night.
“We were the benefactors of turnovers and short fields (in the first half),” Frazier said. “Very opportunistic — the scoop and score, the interception. We had a couple batted balls at the line. Second half it was none of that.”
Heritage will try to bounce back next week when it hosts Loganville at Evans Memorial Stadium.
“We got to keep working hard and play for each other,” Frazier said. “We just got to fix the things that we did wrong ... take it out on Loganville.”