Patriots breeze past Spartans to kick off the season

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Fletcher celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the first quarter to give Heritage the 14-0 lead. Fletcher finished the game with 43 yards on seven carries. (Photo/Alycia Cypress)

Coming off a 20-13 victory over Chaminade-Madonna in the Preseason Kickoff Classic, the Patriots opened up the regular season against the Monsignor Pace Spartans Friday night at Heritage field. 

After receiving the opening kickoff, senior QB Edwin Rhodes III and his offense picked up right where they left off from a week ago. After driving his team down the field, Rhodes hit junior WR Vinson Davis III on a two-yard out in the end zone to give Heritage the early 7-0 lead. 

The Patriots followed up the score by forcing a three-and-out on their first defensive possession. After the Spartan’s muffed the snap on fourth down, Heritage took over on offense at Pace’s own 15 yard line. Moments later, freshman running back Mark Fletcher punched in the touchdown from 10 yards out to bump the Patriot’s lead to 14-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter. 

For the remainder of the first and most of the second quarter, Heritage and Pace held each other in check with multiple defensive stops courtesy of both teams. Around the four minute mark towards the end of the first half, though, the Spartans knocked down a chip shot field goal to shrink the Patriot’s lead to 14-3.

With a minute left in the first half, the Patriots offense responded with a score of their own when Rhodes lobbed it up to junior WR Oronde Gadsden II, who made the catch with the defender on his back for the 25-yard touchdown and 21-3 lead. 

On the ensuing defensive possession, Patriot’s CB Earl Little Jr. read the Spartan’s attempted screen pass to perfection, made the interception and sprinted into the end zone untouched with seconds to go in the half to give his team a 28-3 lead heading into the break. 

Even with the 25-point cushion going into the second half, though, the Patriots kept their foot on the gas pedal. With 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Heritage widened their lead to 35-3 after senior RB Carlson Joseph burst through the Spartan’s secondary for the 45-yard score. 

Following yet another Patriot’s defensive stop, Rhodes continued to pick apart Pace’s defenders, dishing out a deep pass to wide open senior receiver Douglas Emilien for the 61-yard touchdown and 42-3 advantage with six minutes left in the third. 

The Spartans finally answered the Patriots later in the third quarter following a 50 yard catch-and-run score, but the game was already out of hand. 

With seven minutes remaining in regulation, freshman RB Reggie Foster recovered yet another Pace muffed punt to set up backup Patriot freshman QB Blake Murphy’s four-yard QB-keeper touchdown. The score would prove to be the final one of the game as Heritage secured the win over the Spartans in dominating fashion by a final score of 49-10. 

“We played a great game,” Davis, who scored the opening touchdown, said. “From the beginning we came out fast. We played like we had something to prove.”

“We played well on both sides of the ball tonight,” Heritage senior DE KJ Graham said of Friday night’s game. “[The] offense came out and got going out of the gate, scoring touchdowns on back to back [drives]. All we had to do on defense was play our game, fly around and make plays—which we did all night. Overall, we performed well on both sides of the ball, but we still have room for improvement chasing our goal of a state title.”

Heritage moves to 1-0 on the season following the blowout victory over Monsignor Pace and will take on Gonzaga in the first away game of the season on Friday, August 30 at 6:30 pm. 

“I feel that as a whole the team played great,” Rhodes said following his three touchdown performance. “There’s some things we could’ve done better, but we have a long season. We are going to keep improving every game.”

Sammy Rosenthal is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation Fla. and is entering his third year writing for the newsmagazine; his first year as the publication’s Sports Editor. Sammy takes pride in being a die-hard Miami Heat and Dolphins fan as well as dedicating his Sunday to watching football.

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