WAKE FOREST — Every football game has a turning point, some just come earlier than others. The turning point in Cleveland’s 48-16 win over Heritage on Friday came fast and furious in the latter half of the first quarter.
Sixth-ranked Cleveland (4-0) took a 7-0 lead when quarterback Tre Joyner sliced through Heritage defenders for a 17-yard quarterback keeper for the game’s first score. Heritage responded by putting together a solid drive, but its attempt to tie the game was derailed as it failed to convert on fourth down.
That would be as close as Heritage would get. Cleveland running back Issac Martin ran around and past defenders for a 76-yard TD run on the next play from scrimmage. They were the first of 34 unanswered points by Cleveland.
Both schools opened the same year and are in their second year of varsity compettion.
Heritage coach Jason McGeorge admitted the run was a big blow to his team’s pschye.
“I think it got into our players heads,” he said. “We made some mistakes on that drive but we had opportunities. Cleveland is a really good team."
Joyner was spectacular in the first half, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for two more. Martin ran for three touchdowns and 170 yards in just 14 attempts before halftime.
“They do a great job,” said Cleveland coach Marc Morris. “They’re a big part of our offense.”
Heritage finally scored courtesy of a 94-yard kickoff return by Charles Johnson with 40 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make the score 41-7 at halftime.
“It was a long half and a long game,” McGeorge said.
Cleveland picked up right where they left off as the second half began, taking advantage of a 80-yard kick return to score on an 8-yard pass from Joyner to Donqua Williams.
The Huskies did manage an offensive TD in the third quarter when Abdul Sesay scored from three yards out. They also added a 32-yard field goal with under a minute remaining to close the game.
The loss gives Heritage a 2-2 record as it prepares to head into Cap Eight play next week when it travels to nearby rival Wake Forest-Rolesville. McGeorge said that despite his appreciation for the rivalry, it will be business as usual for his team.
“There are a lot of talented teams in Wake County,” he said. “We have a challenge with a talented team that’s been successful for the past 10 years, but we’re going to approach it as our first conference game.”