With only two games standing in the way of a championship, the Patriots returned home to take on the undefeated Jesuit Tigers (13-0) with their eyes set on a State appearance.
After multiple defensive stops from both sides opened up the ballgame, the Tigers found the end zone with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the first to put Jesuit on the board first with a 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing Patriot possession, a fumble handed the ball right back to the Tigers, who capitalized on the great field position with another touchdown to grab a 13-0 lead.
Heritage seemed to generate a response on their next try, but their drive was put to an end when a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage fell in the hands of the Jesuit defense for the interception.
Sophomore QB Blake Murphy and the Patriot offense finally found some traction to start off the second quarter, driving down past midfield to set up a successful field goal from senior kicker Chris Maron to cut the deficit to 13-3.
To open the half, the Patriots continued to chip into the lead, driving the length of the field before converting a short field goal from Maron to bring the score to 13-6.
After forcing another punt, the Patriot offense hit the field again, this time feeding sophomore RB Mark Fletcher, who capped off the drive with a 30-yard house call. Maron’s PAT would tie up the game at 13 a piece with three minutes to go in the third.
The game would remain tied heading into the fourth and deep into crunch time until the Patriots managed to work down into Tiger territory to set up a field goal try from Maron with three seconds on the clock. After Jesuit burned two timeouts to try and ice the senior kicker, Maron split uprights as time ran out to give Heritage the 16-13 victory over the Tigers.
“Lining up for the kick,” Maron said regarding his game-winner, “I just trained my head to think of it like any other kick. As soon as we got the ball back on offense, I started warming up into the net as I had full faith that the offense could get me in range, and they did just that. I knew that the other team was going to call at least one timeout to try and ice me, and that their fans and band were going to make as much noise as possible, but I knew what I had to do and just tried to put it out of my mind. I trusted my snapper, Aiden Arias, my holder, Julian Ramirez, and my protection on the line that they would get the job done. And I knew that if I had missed my team would have had my back and fought till the very end in overtime. These guys have a spirit like nothing I’ve ever been a part of before.”
With the win, the Patriots will advance to the final round of the 2020 FHSAA Football State Championship bracket, where they will travel to Tallahassee Friday, Dec. 18 to vie with Rickards Raiders for the state crown.