WAKE FOREST — Heritage took advantage of an injured Leesville Road team Friday, running away with a 30-7 win in the Cap Eight conference opener for both teams.
Heritage (4-1, 1-0) struggled early. The Huskies turned the ball over on downs, fumbled, threw an interception and missed a field goal, but once the Heritage offense found the end zone on its last two possessions of the first half, the Huskies started rolling.
“We overcame turnovers, and in the last couple of years we had something bad happen and we kind of got down on ourselves,” said Heritage coach Jason McGeorge. “Tonight we got it down close and weren’t getting points, but they kept driving. The defense kept bailing our offense out and then finally our offense got it going and some players made some big plays and that’s what you really want in a game like this.”
Quarterback Blake Walters found Jalen Parson twice – once for a 15-yard score and then for a 5-yard touchdown – to put the Huskies up 14-0 at the half. Heritage scored again on an Abdul Sesay 3-yard run on its first drive of the second half. Parson led the Huskies receivers with 94 yards on seven receptions. Sesay led the Huskies with 124 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Walters finished with 206 yards on 16-of-23 passing.
Heritage’s defense held the Pride to 42 yards of total offense in the first half. Leesville didn’t put together a drive that crossed midfield until the second half.
Leesville Road (3-2, 0-1 Cap Eight), which averaged more than 40 points per game leading into Friday’s matchup, was without its star Braxton Berrios.
Berrios, a senior, walked onto the field for the pregame coin toss, representing the Pride as a captain, but he would spend the remainder of the game on the sidelines with crutches and wearing shorts and a soft cast.
He injured his foot in the first half of the Pride’s nonconference loss to Panther Creek a week earlier.
The Pride got on the board with 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Mason Pyper found Robert Ennis on a 28-yard touchdown pass, but Heritage responded with a 72-yard return touchdown by Charles Johnson on the ensuing kick.
Heritage kicker Matt Sattler rounded things out with a 32-yard field goal in the fourth.
“We were able to move the ball offensively and control it a little bit, so that was the important part,” McGeorge said. “We don’t want to be a boom or bust offense, so we did have some good drives. We moved the ball and we continued to improve, and that’s what we want to happen.”
Berrios wasn’t the only piece missing from Leesville’s starting lineup. The Pride was short five starting players, but head coach Chad Smothers said his team wouldn’t make excuses.
“We had three days to prepare to come over here and play,” Smothers said. “Everybody has injuries. We had a football team with a game plan that was prepared to come over here and play. We’re not going to make excuses for injuries we have. We’ve got to come over here and execute the plan and we didn’t do that.”
Smothers said Berrios’ injury is day-to-day.
“We’ve got to make a decision,” Smother said. “Adversity brings out the best in you or the worst. We’ve been challenged and we have to decide which way we’re going to go. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, so we better get better in a hurry.”
Leesville faces Broughton next week while Heritage hosts Sanderson.