Patriots outduel Pirates in Murphy’s return, advance to Quarter-Finals

in Football/Game Coverage/Sports by
Heritage’s 49-0 victory marked their second shutout of the season as well as the team’s highest point total of the year. (Graphic/Ethan Masel)

After losing their second game of the season last week versus the Raiders, the Patriots returned home to host the Palm Bay Pirates (1-6) as part of the 2020 FHSAA Football State Championships in starting sophomore QB Blake Murphy’s return from a five-game absence. 

After forcing a three-and-out on the Pirates’ first drive of the night, the Patriots took advantage of favorable field position, with sophomore RB Mark Fletcher capping off a 37-yard drive with a 5-yard score to give Heritage a 7-0 lead with 8:02 to go in the opening quarter. 

After both teams couldn’t find much success on the following two drives, a shifty return from senior WR Vinson Davis set up Murphy and the Patriot offense just past the Pirates’ own 40 yard line. Once a Murphy run brought the Patriots inside the 15, the sophomore QB found senior WR Mike Watkins in the end zone for the touchdown with 3:24 remaining in the first. 

On the ensuing Pirate drive, another three-and-out forced a punt attempt from inside the team’s own 5 yard line. The Patriots managed to break through the protection, blocking and recovering the punt at the 1 yard line. Moments later, sophomore RB Jerry Dinkins would capitalize on the opportunity, punching in a 1 yard score to hand Heritage a 21-0 advantage with 2:27 left in the quarter. 

At the start of the second quarter, the Pirate offense found themselves driving before junior LB Jaeden Kinlock scooped up a muffed snap and returned it 52 yards for a defensive score to give Heritage the 28-0 lead with 11:03 to go before the half. 

The Patriot defensive unit struck again on the ensuing Pirate drive when sophomore LB David Vadala recovered a forced fumble from junior DT Richard Thomas and returned it for the team’s second defensive score of the night and a 35–0 lead with 9:52 left in the second quarter.

Later in the quarter, Dinkins found the end zone again, breaking loose for a 66-yard touchdown run as Heritage continued to pull away with a 42-0 lead, which would remain the score when both teams headed into the break. 

Following a scoreless third quarter, the Patriots returned to the end zone via sophomore RB Reggie Foster’s touchdown run with 11:16 left in regulation as Heritage captured a 49-0 lead, which would prove the final score when the clock struck zero.

“[My mindset was] to just be calm and do what I have to do,” Murphy said in regards to his first game since injuring his collarbone in Week 2. “I wasn’t trying to get hit or take big hits, but, overall, my team and I did really well. We have to get ready for next week.”

The commanding victory marked the Patriots’ sixth win of the year and advanced the team to the Quarter-Finals next Friday, Nov. 20, where they will face Northwestern (3-1) with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

Sammy Rosenthal is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation Fla. and is entering his fourth year writing for the newsmagazine; his second 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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