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Walker Harris passes for six touchdowns as Heritage knocks off Rolesville

Walker Harris couldn’t have asked for a better senior night.

The Heritage quarterback threw six touchdown passes in a 42-28 win over Rolesville that, at times on Friday night, bordered on absurdity. The Huskies ran out to a 20-0 lead over their rival, blew the lead it in a quarter and a half and came alive in the fourth for a raucous win in front of a capacity crowd and student section.

“Everybody came out, did what they had to do, balled out,” said Harris, a Virginia Military Institute commit. “My O-line, I can’t give them enough credit. We’ve been grinding all season, all summer for a moment like this.”

Heritage played a nearly perfect first quarter. Harris, a lefty, sliced up Rolesville’s defense on three consecutive drives for three passing touchdowns: two to Joshua Crabtree and one to Whit Kane. And the Huskies’ defense held strong, forcing a fumble, then a turnover on downs in the red zone.

Rolesville promptly flipped the script on its rival in the second quarter. Quarterback Byrum Brown started things with a passing touchdown to Jashaun Patterson, his favorite target. Senior running back Josh Pullen punched in a short touchdown and another Pullen score kept halftime momentum comfortably with Rolesville — even though the Rams trailed, 27-21.

Then Pullen, the Rams’ workhorse back, erased that ever-dwindling deficit. He scored his third touchdown of the night on another short, between-the-tackles run to give Rolesville its first lead at 28-27. The home crowd at an increasingly chilly Husky Stadium was stunned.

“They’re kids, and sometimes in this environment, they get a little lax,” Heritage coach Wallace Clark said.

From there, a shootout of a game turned into a slugfest. Heritage and Rolesville swapped lengthy, fruitless drives followed by punts. Both teams opted to their run game as the second-half clock drained — Pullen continued to star, as did his backup, Cyrus Rogers.

But after Rolesville missed on a fourth-and-8, Heritage got the ball back at its own 14-yard line and 4:08 to get a game-winning score. And the Huskies’ offense caught fire. Harris diced up the Rams secondary and hit Brodrick Gooch for a go-ahead touchdown with 2:58 left — Kane then connected with Gooch on a Philly Special-esque two-point conversion to make it 35-28.

The Huskies promptly forced and recovered a fumble and scored again — Harris to Gooch, for the third time — to put an exclamation point on their win.

“They’ve been roller-coaster kids all year long,” Clark said with a grin. “That’s what I call them … towards the end there, they were up — and they stayed up.”

Records: Heritage 7-3, 4-0 Northern 4A; Rolesville 8-2, 2-2 Northern 4A.

Three who mattered

Walker Harris, Heritage: The Huskies needed their senior to air it out, and he more than delivered with six passing touchdowns. Harris worked every part of the field and spread the ball around to a slew of dangerous skill-position players

Brodrick Gooch, Heritage: The sophomore played outside and in the slot. Rolesville couldn’t guard him either way. All three of Gooch’s touchdowns were huge for the Huskies — none more than his go-ahead score on an out route with three minutes left and the ensuing two-point conversion he caught.

Josh Pullen, Rolesville: Pullen shook off defenders all night en route to three rushing touchdowns. He set the tone for the Rams’ dominant second quarter.

Worth noting

Clark lauded Ben Steele, the Heritage kicker/punter, for putting his team in great field position all night. The senior was a perfect 6 for 6 on extra points, too.

Rolesville’s defense was excellent in the second and third quarters, allowing just one touchdown. But in the first quarter and last four minutes of the fourth quarter, the Rams allowed five.

Although Heritage defaulted to its passing game all night, senior running back Trey Holloway still had a few impressive touches on draws and screen passes.

Scoring summary

H — Walker Harris pass to Joshua Crabtree (Ben Steele kick)

H — Harris pass to White Kane (Steele kick)

H — Harris pass to Crabtree (two-point conversion failed)

R — Byrum Brown pass to Jashaun Patterson (Devin Versteegen kick)

R — Josh Pullen rush (Versteegen kick)

H — Harris pass to Brodrick Gooch (Steele kick)

R — Pullen rush (Versteegen kick)

R — Pullen rush (Versteegen kick)

H — Harris pass to Gooch (Kane two-point pass to Gooch)

H — Harris pass to Gooch (Steele kick)

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.