Millbrook quarterback Reid Herring didn’t take long to decide between running back Marcus Marshall’s most important contributions in the Wildcats’ 17-14 win over Heritage on Friday night at Millbrook.
Was it the senior’s 76 yards rushing in the second half and a touchdown with 4:18 to play for a 17-6 lead? Or was it his onside kick recovery of a bouncing ball Heritage nearly recovered while the Wildcats were clinging to a 3-point lead with 3:13 to play.
“I’d say the onside kick recovery,” Herring said. “But he did a great job all night fighting for yards. He really came through for us when we needed him.”
The No. 12-ranked Wildcats improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Cap 8 4A in a battle with No. 10 Heritage (6-3, 3-2) for second place behind conference-leading Wake Forest.
Heritage missed out on points on three trips in the red zone. The Huskies also missed an extra-point kick and a 25-yard field goal.
“We struggled again in the red zone again, and our kicking game isn’t where it should be,” Heritage coach Jason McGeorge said. “We want to be on the top (of the standings). I don’t know if there is a moral victory, but we’re going back to work tomorrow.”
Heritage trailed Millbrook 10-6 at halftime despite out-gaining the Wildcats by 233 yards. Millbrook had 133, but 67 came on a touchdown pass from Herring to Jonte Leaston for a 7-6 lead in the first quarter.
But Marshall helped move the chains in the second half, while his big brother Keith, a Georgia running back, was home for the weekend and watched from the stands. Herring, demonstrating timing and touch, hit key passes. He was 9 of 14 for 190 yards with one TD and no interceptions.
Heritage running back Matthew Baker was a workhorse who carried 38 times for 234 yards. He set up two touchdown passes from Blake Walters to Jeff Gemmell of 2 yards for a 6-0 lead and 14 yards to cut the deficit to 17-14.
Heritage rolled up 402 total yards, but Millbrook’s Kengera Daniel and Cameron Celietti stopped crucial drives with key sacks, including one forced fumble that Millbrook‘s Wilheim Heinsen recovered after Heritage had driven to the Wildcats’ 26-yard line.
“They were running off tackle a lot,” Daniel said, “but when passed we were able to get some pressure on them.”