After taking care of business in the regional semifinals, the Patriots took on the second seed Miami Northwestern team for the regional crown and a trip to the state semifinals.
The Patriots received the opening kick, but Northwestern forced them into an early turnover and capitalized on the opportunity by capping off the ensuing drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to take the 7-0 with ten minutes left in the first quarter.
After two more stalled drives from the Patriots, sophomore WR/DE Marvin Jones Jr. recovered the loose fumble in Northwestern territory to set up the Heritage offense in favorable field position. On the next play, with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter, the Patriots knotted up the contest at seven following senior QB Edwin Rhodes’ run down the sideline for the score.
Northwestern would respond midway through the second quarter with a 24-yard field to retake the lead, 10-7, and secured a 16-7 advantage heading into halftime.
Although the Patriots would come up with key plays to hold them out of the end zone throughout the third quarter, a costly Northwestern pick six just before the fourth quarter left Heritage facing a 23-7 deficit.
Early in the fourth, though, Rhodes connected with junior WR Oronde Gadson, who burned the secondary for the 63 yard touchdown to trim the lead to 23-13 (failed two point conversion).
Following another defensive stop, the Patriots offense stormed the field once again, needing a score to keep their hopes alive. With 4:33 left in the game, senior RB Carlson Joseph provided just that, darting into the endzone untouched from ten yards out to cut the deficit to 23-20.
THRILLER ALERT: TD @AH__Athletics 2020 RB Joseph Carlson rushes in untouched to being Heritage within 3 points of @MNW_Bulls1955 SCORE: 23-20 BULLS. 4:33 left in GAME. #hotbedworld @_BenjaminReport pic.twitter.com/n22V1pkoSJ— Football Hotbed (@FootballHotbed) November 23, 2019
Northwestern would successfully milk the clock on the next drive, though, running out the time on the Patriots’ hopes of a comeback and handing them a 23-20 defeat.
“We played hard and we played for each other,” freshman RB Mark Fletcher said. “We were the better team; the time just ran out.”
The loss marked only the Patriots’ second defeat on the year and squashed Heritage’s run at the state title. The Patriots finished the year with a final record of 10-2 and, as they did last year, find their season end in the regional finals.