The Heritage football team is on their way to their second consecutive FHSAA Class 5A State Championship game after defeating the Immokalee Indians 28-21 in a comeback battle for the second game in a row. After a nail-biting 57-56 triple overtime win against Cardinal Gibbons last week, the Patriots came into the state semifinals seeking an easy win over 12-0 Immokalee High School. The win was far from easy, as the Patriots trailed the majority of the game.
The first score of the night came on a 56-yard touchdown bomb from senior quarterback Cameron Smith to senior wide receiver Marcus Lodge, giving the Pats the early 7-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
The Indians quickly recovered with a 37-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback RJ Rosales to senior running back Fred Green on busted coverage to tie the game at seven a piece.
After a lost Patriot fumble on their opening drive of the second quarter, the Indians capitalized with a questionable call of a 23-yard touchdown pass from Rosales to senior wideout Shedro Louis. The pass seemed to be dropped by Louis, but was ruled completed, marking the score up to 14-7.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Smith led a three play, 95-yard drive for the Patriots, consisting of a 63-yard rushing touchdown by Smith to tie the game back up at 14.
With under two minutes to play in the third, the Patriots stopped the Indians at the 9-yard line forcing a field goal, but a five-yard encroachment penalty extended Immokalee’s drive. The very next play former Heritage running back, turned Indian, senior Abraham Alce punched it in from five-yards out, breaking the tie once more and giving Immokalee the 21-14 lead.
With ten minutes to go on the game, junior running back Tyler Jones rushed for a five-yard score to tie it up once more at 21. After a big defensive stand by the Patriots, the offense took over with 8:52 remaining in the game. The first play of the drive, senior running back Miles Jones rushed 73 yards to the house, putting Heritage up for the first time since the first quarter. Another defensive stand by the stingy Patriot defense gave the ball back to the offense, who managed to run the clock out and seal the victory.
Heritage will look for back-to-back state titles, and its fourth in five years, when it faces Baker County in Orlando next Friday.