His Marine Corps father named him Gunnar, but it’s turning out to be an appropriate name as Heritage’s quarterback.
Gunnar Holmberg completed 15 of 22 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Huskies past Wakefield 21-0 Friday night on Heritage’s field.
With Heritage struggling to run the ball in recent games, the Huskies opened up their offense in the late-season battle of Cap 8 teams ranked among the N&O’s Top 25 schools.
“We feel we have the best receivers in the Cap 8,” said Holmberg, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior. “We didn’t think they could stop us.”
Heritage, ranked No. 13, improved to 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the Cap 8, while No. 17-ranked Wakefield fell to 6-4 and 3-3 in conference play.
Heritage managed a 14-0 halftime lead despite letting two scoring opportunities slip away. On the Huskies’ first possession, wide receiver Zach Gemmell caught a 36-yard pass to the Wakefield 22-yard line, but the Wolverines’ Yazid Faris forced a fumble.
Heritage got the ball back after a punt and drove into scoring position. Slotback Thayer Thomas’ 20-yard post-pattern touchdown catch was called back for a penalty. Heritage advanced to the 6-yard line, but a field goal attempt was wide.
Heritage’s defense stopped Wakefield’s only first-half scoring opportunity late in the second quarter to allow the Huskies to preserve their 14-0 lead at intermission. Wakefield’s Tavin Sharp intercepted a pass and returned it seven yards to the Heritage 28-yard line. But on third-and-9, quarterback Matt McKay was forced to throw away the ball under a blitz from Ricky Person. On fourth down, Chris Griffin stopped McKay’s run out of the pocket for no gain.
THREE TO KNOW
Zach Gemmell, Heritage: The senior receiver caught seven passes for 113 yards.
Jalen Pittman, Heritage: The senior receiver caught two touchdown passes of 2 and 20 yards. He finished with three catches for 32 yards.
Najeem Wilson, Wakefield: The senior receiver led the Wolverines offensively with four catches for 60 yards.
THEY SAID IT
“Our loss to Millbrook was a disappointing performance. This win was good to get some momentum.”– Holmberg.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: Tipped balls caught by Heritage. Branden Kunz picked off an interception in the first quarter at the Wakefield 34-yard line to set up Huskies’ first touchdown on a seven-play, 34-yard drive. The second in the second period by Gemmell for a 9-yard gain was part of Heritage’s six-play, 91-yard drive for a 14-0 halftime lead.
56/113: Wakefield’s rushing and passing totals for the night.
4/12: In a statistical oddity, winning Heritage was flagged 12 times for 68 yards and losing Wakfield only four for 25.
Comparing scores is often misleading, but with four Cap 8 teams ranked N&O schools, it foreshadowed the Wakefield-Heritage result based on recent losses in Cap 8 play against No. 2 Wake Forest and No. 12 Millbrook. The Wake Forest scores marked the difference.
Heritage entered the game having lost two competitive contests in a row to Wake Forest 26-13 and Millbrook 17-15.
Wakefield beat Broughton 49-0 last week, but the previous two weeks the Wolverines dropped two in a row by scores of 45-0 against Wake Forest and 30-28 against Millbrook.