The Patriots kicked off the 2020 football season on the road Friday night in a battle with the 1-0 Chaminade-Madonna Lions.
Early in the contest, both offenses failed to gain much traction as each opposing defense held them in check for the majority of the game. Despite many forced punts as well as a fumble recovery by senior free safety Boogsie Silvera late in the first, Heritage proved unable to capitalize on their opportunities throughout the first quarter.
While the Lions faced a similar fate on offense, resulting in a 0-0 score at the beginning of the second, they began to find their rhythm in the early stages of the quarter. A strong drive set the Lions offense up inside the Patriots’ own 20 yard-line, but Heritage held strong and forced Chaminade-Madonna to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead with 9:40 to go in the half.
As Heritage continued to struggle on their ensuing offensive possession, though, their defense kept them in the contest, forcing a turnover-on-downs midway through the quarter. With two minutes to go in the second, sophomore QB Blake Murphy and the Patriot offense began to show signs of life, marching down the field before facing a fourth-and-one deep in the Lions’ territory.
Instead of opting for a chance at the tie, Coach Patrick Surtain successfully gambled on the short conversion, setting up a five yard QB keeper that saw Murphy lunge for six in the closing moments of the half. A successful extra point try would give Heritage the 7-3 advantage heading into the break.
Following the intermission, the score remained 7-3 throughout the third quarter as both teams were unable to generate a spark. In the fourth, the Lions eventually worked themselves inside the Heritage 20 yard-line before the Patriots defense stepped up again, forcing and recovering a fumble to halt the Chaminade-Madonna push.
Towards the end of regulation, the Lions found themselves with a final drive for the win in the waning minutes of the game. Chaminade-Madonna successfully reached midfield before sophomore strong safety Daemon Fagaon picked off the Lions to set up sophomore RB Mark Fletcher’s game-winning first down to seal the 7-3 victory for Heritage.
Though Heritage escaped with the win, Murphy expressed how he feels the offense needs to operate in the coming weeks in order to find more of a rhythm.
“I think I played badly,” Murphy said. “I could have done way better and I know I can, but overall, as a team, we have to be better. I think us as an offense has to run the plays better and understand what’s going on. But for the most part, the offense did really well and we have to get ready for next week.”
The victory pushes the Patriots to 1-0 to start off their 2020 campaign as they prepare to travel to Clearwater to take on the Tornadoes (1-1) next Friday, Sept. 25 with kickoff set for 7 PM.