CONYERS — Flowery Branch held off a late rally with a last-minute defensive stand against the Heritage Patriots in Friday’s matchup of unbeaten teams.
Flowery Branch (7-0), the No. 3 team in the state, became the No. 1 team in Region 8-AAAA with a 21-13 win over Heritage, but it took all 48 minutes thanks to a tenacious comeback from the home team.
Heritage (6-1) trailed 14-0 in the second half, before it finally broke through with 5:28 left in the game. After the Falcons defense smothered them throughout the contest, the Patriots’ offense finally got rolling, completing an eight-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Dominic Craft put the Patriots on the scoreboard on a 32-yard run on a sweep to the left side.
Heritage then went for the onside kick and it was recovered by the kicker, Chris Raines, giving the Patriots the ball back on the Flowery Branch 46-yard line.
After two short runs, Heritage coach Chad Frazier called Craft’s number again on the same sweep to the left.
Once again, Craft came through dashing 37 yards for the touchdown. After a failed extra point, the Patriots were just a touchdown and a two-point conversion away from overtime with 4:02 to go.
Heritage kicked off to the Falcons, this time, and came up with a stop.
On the ensuing offensive drive, Quami Stanley reeled off a 23-yard run to put the Patriots on the Falcons’ 22. After a pass interference call and a 6-yard run by Stanley, Heritage faced third-and-four from the 5-yard line.
With no timeouts, the Patriots spiked the ball to stop the clock.
They then went back to the well, running a left sweep to Craft. This time the senior, who finished with 79 yards on eight carries, couldn’t get free and was stopped at the line of scrimmage by a form tackle from Falcons junior defensive back Noel Padmore.
On offense, Flowery Branch was kept well off its 53-point-per-game pace, but executed well enough early to go up by two touchdowns in the first half.
Kanler Coker threw a 48-yard pass to Casey Osborne to set up a 24-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Haley for the first score of the game late in the first quarter.
The Falcons then got what would be the winning score on a 13-yard pass from Coker to CJ Curry.
The Falcons added their third score on a 6-yard run by Haley early in the third quarter.
Heritage put up 163 of its 254 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.
Flowery Branch held the Patriots to just 65 yards in the first half, with 63 coming on 18 carries.