High School Football
Hawks dealt heartbreaker in loss to Flint River
by Doug Gorman
To call this a wild week for The Heritage School’s football program might be an understatement.
The Hawks lost their head coach and quarterback all in a span of about six days.
However, the resignation of Kevin Prisant and a shoulder injury to senior starting quarterback Brad Macke in the opening quarter of the season still didn’t dampen the Hawks determination against non-region rival Flint River during interim coach D.J. Clay’s debut at home.
But a late fourth-quarter rally from Heritage fell just short of the goal line in a 13-12 loss where a potential game-winning 2-point conversion on a run by Parker Jones was stopped in the closing seconds of the game.
Flint River recovered the Hawks’ ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock with 22 seconds left.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Clay said. “They never gave up. That’s all you can ask.
Heritage took possession for the last time at its own 36 with just over three minutes left in the game and marched 64 yards in 12 plays.
Hamp Smith capped the drive with a 5-yard score, but it was some big plays during the drive that sets things up for the Hawks comeback attempt.
Earlier in the drive, Smith helped move the chains on fourth down and backup quarterback turned-starter Peyton Henson added a clutch throw on third-and-13 to Chaz Bankston to put the ball inside the Flint River 10 first-and-goal.
Macke, the Hawks third-year starter at quarterback entering the season, only played one series before suffering a shoulder injury on a keeper on Heritage’s next drive. His right arm remained in a sling with an ice pack taped to his injured shoulder.
“He did a great job,” Clay said of Henson. I am so proud of the way our guys responded to him.”
Henson’s pass to Bankston wasn’t the only time the quarterback and wide receiver hooked up in Friday’s opener.
The junior, who was wearing the No. 8 worn by late Heritage football standout Tyler Henson, opened the scoring early in the second quarter when he converted a fourth-down pass to Bankston along the Hawks sideline from 5-yards to close an 11-play drive with 11:30 left until halftime.
A missed extra point gave the Hawks a 6-0 lead, but the margin to hold up log.
Flint River immediately countered the score with some big plays of its own on the next drive, marching 80 yards on three snaps.
James Murphy picked up a 5-yard gain on the first play of the drive, and then he ran nearly 60 yards on the following snap to set up Nathan Strickland’s touchdown run from inside the 10.
The extra point pushed Flint River ahead 7-6 just before halftime.
Heritage had a chance to go ahead at the break only to have Cole Harris intercept a pass from Henson near the goal line, and the one-point deficit held into the break.
Flint River pushed the lead to 13-6 midway through the third quarter, needing two plays to convert from Heritage’s 46-yard line after the Hawks were pinned deep in their own zone.
Murphy carried the ball both times for the Wildcats, taking the ball inside the 1-yard line on the first carry and then capping the drive with a burst up the middle for Flint River’s final touchdown.
Cole Jones kept Heritage within seven points when he busted through the middle and blocked the Wildcats extra point attempt.
“We are going to build on this and just use it to get better,” Clay said. “It was a tough week, but we are family.”
Wildcats 13, Hawks 12
Flint River 0 7 6 0 — 13
Heritage 6 0 0 6 — 12
THS —Peyton Henson 5 pass to Chaz Bankston (kick failed), 11:30
FR —Nathan Strickland 7 run (kick good), 10:06
Flint River-Murphy 1 run (kicked blocked), 2:02
Heritage—Hamp Smith 5 run, :22 (Two-point run failed)