HHS #21 pushes over the line for their first touch down in the 2nd quarter. Kurt please verify this
CONYERS -- It took about 14 seconds into the second half for the Heritage football team to feel comfortable against Cedar Shoals on Friday in Conyers. Leading just 7-0, Kimari Neal ran back the opening kickoff of the third quarter 93 yards for a touchdown and Myron Fears rushed for 169 yards and a score in a 21-0 victory at Evans Memorial Stadium.
Heritage started 4-0 for the second consecutive season and moved to 2-0 in Region 8-AAAAA. Cedar dropped its second straight game and fell to 2-2 and 0-2 in league play.
The Patriots led 7-0 at halftime, but immediately made it a two-score game. Neal fielded the kickoff to start the second half at the seven, hit midfield on a sprint and outran the kicker to make it a 14-0 game.
"It was huge," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said of the kickoff return. "I felt like there was kind of a weakness (in the kick off coverage). We let a fast kid catch it (and) that was just huge to be able to go up two scores."
Heritage spent the rest of the second half frustrating Cedar's hurry-up offense as the visitors from Athens collected just 49 total yards in the half and 122 for the game.
The teams were held scoreless after Neal's long kickoff return until Fears had 50 yards on four carries, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Marshal Taplin with five minutes to play in the game.
"Myron was a beast, he ran so hard," Frazier said. "I'm really proud of him."
On the game's opening possession, Cedar used its hurry-up offense to get inside the Heritage 20-yard line, thanks to a key, fourth-and-two pass completion from Darius Jordan to Breshawrd Cooper. But after that, the Jaguars had a pair of false start penalties and two running plays for negative yardage, which preceded a missed, 45-yard field goal attempt by Zak Huberty.
After a long drive didn't produce any points, the Patriots quickly got the ball back midway through the second and this time put the ball in the end zone. The hosts had four plays of at least 11 yards, including a 34-yard hook up between quarterback Ryan Sutton and Obe Fortune, and Fears followed with an 11-run, bouncing off tackles for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
That turned out to be the only score of the opening half. Heritage had one of its finest halves of the season to date, collecting 146 of its 180 total yards on the ground (and nearly six yards per carry), but two drives ended in missed field goals.
With just under 30 seconds left until halftime, Heritage executed a perfect fake punt, getting an 11-yard run by Taplin on fourth-and-two. But after Fortune just missed making an acrobatic catch near the goal line, Harrison Kulp missed from 45 yards.
On their first drive of the game, the Patriots shaved more than nine minutes off the play clock and got to the Cedar two, but Kulp was wide left on a 19-yard field goal try.
After their long opening drive, Cedar ran only nine plays and had 31 total yards the rest of the first half.
"They marched down the field and we survived the missed field goal," said Frazier. "(After that) things started clicking for us."
Heritage will travel to Hall County next weekend for a meeting with 3-1 Gainesville. The Red Elephants are coming off a blowout win over Apalachee and have won their last three games by a combined score of 150-35.
"Haven't seen them ... coached well," Frazier said. "We'll have our hands full."