After handling the Raiders in the Regional Semifinals last week, the Patriots continued their playoff run with a clash against the Eau Gallie Commodores (7-1) in the Region Finals.
The Commodores started off the game swinging, marching down the field on the opening drive and securing a 6-0 lead to put the Patriots in an early hole.
Despite falling short on a fourth down conversion on their first possession, the Patriots overcame poor field position on their second drive following a long run from sophomore QB Blake Murphy. On the very next play, sophomore RB Mark Fletcher punched in the touchdown to claim a 7-6 lead for the Patriots.
Early in the second quarter, following defensive stops by both sides, the Patriots found the endzone once again after Fletcher burned the Commodore secondary on his way for six to hand the Patriots a 14-6 lead.
Another three-and-out for the Commodores returned the ball right back to the Patriots, where a long connection from Murphy to senior WR Nick Whitton set up a field goal try from senior kicker Chris Maron. After a penalty for running into the kicker, though, the Commodores brought the Patriot drive back to life; Heritage would capitalize moments later courtesy of Fletcher’s third score of the half to extend the lead to 21-6 at the break.
The Patriots didn’t miss a step on the first drive of the third quarter, continuing to impose their will with a successful Chris Maron field goal to push the Heritage advantage to 24-6.
Heritage continued to pull away with another touchdown later in the half, as Murphy connected with junior WR Emory Clemons for his first passing TD of the night. Another Patriot touchdown moments later would push the lead to 38-6 midway through the fourth quarter.
Though the Commodores managed to score once more to narrow their deficit to 38-12, time ran out on Eau Gallie to seal the Patriot victory and advance them to the next round of the playoffs.
“[We have to] keep making big plays, keep the ball moving and no turnovers,” Murphy said on the team’s mindset heading into next week.
The win marks Heritage’s ninth of the season as they will look to keep their momentum rolling next Friday, Dec. 11 at home against the Jesuit Tigers to continue moving closer to their state title hopes.