In search of the program’s fifth title and first since 2017, the Patriots travelled to Tallahassee Friday, Dec. 18 to take on the Rickards Raiders for the 5A State crown on the line.
Two defensive stops from both sides started off the game before the Patriots finally broke the ice on their second series on the back of sophomore RB Mark Fletcher, who punched in a four-yard touchdown to give Heritage a 7-0 lead with 5:55 left in the first.
Towards the end of the first quarter, the Patriots found paydirt again, this time courtesy of sophomore QB Blake Murphy hitting senior WR Nick Whitton for the 49-yard score to extend the lead to 14-0.
Midway through the second quarter, Heritage found themselves in scoring position yet again after senior WR Vinsion Davis’s punt return set up shop for the offense inside the five. Moments later, Murphy tossed his second score of the night to senior WR Oronde Gadsden in the corner of the end zone to push the advantage to 21-0.
After the halftime break, the Raiders finally responded with a touchdown of their own to cut the deficit to 21-6 with 10:53 left in the third quarter.
Both squads failed to generate much success the rest of the way as the only remaining score would come from a 29-yard field goal try from senior kicker Chris Maron to bump the lead to 24-6.
Heritage would go on to close out the game 24-6 to clinch the 5A State Championship and the team’s fifth state banner.
“We all had the mindset of ‘we have to win this game,’” Murphy said. “We had to put our names out there again and our program. We all did what we had to do and I love this team.”
The win puts an end to the Patriots’ victorious season as the team now celebrates their third title in five years.