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Heritage amassed more than 600 yards of total offense against Grafton en route to a thrilling 35-34 upset win during Friday night's first-round game in the Group 4A East tournament.
The No. 6-seed Hurricanes entered the playoffs with a 4-6 record, but Grafton Coach Matt McLeod knew records mean little when every game is one-and-done.
"When you're in the playoffs, the margin of error is one point, six inches, half a yard, not being aligned properly — there's a lot of things you can get into like that," he said. "Records mean nothing in the playoffs. Zero. Everybody is good."
McLeod's words rung especially true minutes after Heritage knocked off the No. 3-seeded Clippers at home.
Both teams traded blows throughout the evening, leading to one of the most entertaining game involving a Historic Triangle team all season.
Grafton started the game with a big defense play, of which there were few on the night. With just over six minutes left to play in the first quarter, Grafton defensive back Noah Owens jumped a route, picked off a pass from Heritage quarterback Jeremiah Boyd and returned it 35 yards for the game's opening score.
In what became a consistent theme throughout the night, Heritage answered Grafton's score with one of its own. The Hurricanes strung together a 7-play drive that was capped with a Tra'sean Shackleford touchdown from 11 yards out.
On the first play of the second quarter, Boyd fumbled the ball on a read-option play and gave Grafton the ball at their own 19-yard line. The Clippers methodically moved the ball down the field before running back Trevaun Walker punched home a 1-yard touchdown run, his first of four on the night.
Heritage responded by taking a deep shot against Grafton on the first play of its next drive. Boyd dropped back into the pocket and delivered a bomb to Amonyae Watson, who beat his defender and cruised 75 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.
The Hurricanes nearly took the lead on Grafton late in the second half before Shackleford lost a fumble on Grafton's 1-yard line and gave the ball to the Clippers.
Grafton took advantage of the turnover, putting together a 99-yard drive that was highlighted by a spectacular diving catch from Andrew Pase on third down. The catch set Grafton up inside the red zone, allowing Walker to score from two yards out plays later.
The late score allowed Grafton to enter halftime with a 21-14 lead.
A quiet third quarter saw both Heritage and Grafton held scoreless, entering the fourth quarter with the Clippers still leading 21-14.
Heritage started the fourth quarter by scoring on a drive that began with 3:03 left in the third quarter. On the 15th play of the drive, Shackleford dove into the end zone from two yards out. A blocked extra point allowed Grafton to hold a 21-20 lead.
Walker scored his third touchdown of the season on Grafton's next possession. On third down from the Heritage 40-yard line, Walker ran through a pair of arm tackles and sprinted 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Clippers up 28-28 with 7:36 left to play.
The Hurricanes responded with a clutch 55-yard drive that was capped by a Shackleford 2-yard touchdown run, his third of the game. A two-point conversion by Heritage tied the game at 28-28.
Sticking with the trend of trading points, Grafton found the end zone again on its next drive. Walker, who finished with a game-high 254 rushing yards, once again put Grafton on his back.
The powerful runner displayed some quickness as he outran the entire Heritage defense for a 57-yard touchdown up the gut, dragging a pair of would-be tacklers during the final 10 yards of the run.
However, normally reliable kicker Reed King pushed the extra point wide right, giving Grafton a 34-28 lead with 3:45 remaining.
Heritage took to the skies during the ensuing drive, completing a pair of long throws to convert third and fourth downs.
With the ball on the Grafton 41-yard line, Heritage wide receiver Timothy Payne took to the skies, ripped the ball out of the hands of a Grafton defensive back and made his way to the end zone. A made extra point gave Heritage its first lead of the game 35-34 with 1:33 left to play.
"Ultimately we didn't make the plays we needed to make," McLeod said after the game. "At the end of the day, we have to make sure we were doing our proper technique. I'm sure the kids were doing their best, but they just came up short and sometimes that happens."
On Grafton's last-ditch effort to take the lead, the Clippers were unable to move past their own 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs and handing the victory to Heritage.
With the loss, Grafton's season comes to a close with a 7-4 final record. Despite the loss, McLeod said he was happy with how his team performed this season.
"We had a heck of a season," he said. "We're really proud of our seniors and they've helped turn the program around. I'm excited about the season for them. ... We beat all the county schools, we got a home playoff game, which we haven't had in five years. There's a lot of positives from this season."
Heritage: 7 7 0 21 — 35
Grafton: 7 14 0 13 — 34
G: Owens 35 interception return (R. King kick), 7-0
H: Shackleford 11 run (Greene kick), 7-7
G: Walker 1 run (R. King kick), 14-7
H: Watson 75 pass from Boyd (Greene kick), 14-14
G: Walker 2 run (R. King kick), 21-14
H: Shackleford 2 run (kick blocked), 21-20
G: Walker 40 run (R. King kick), 28-20
H: Shackleford 2 run (Jones pass from Boyd), 28-28
G: Walker 57 run (kick missed), 34-28
H: Payne 41 pass from Boyd (Greene kick), 35-34
First Downs: 25; 15
Rushes-yards: 43-248; 38-343
Comp-att-int: 17-32-1; 2-9-1
Passing yards: 407; 48
Fumbles-lost: 2-2; 2-2
Penalties-yards: 7-60; 6-41
Heritage: Tra'sean Shackleford (26 car, 165 yards, 3 TDs, 2 rec, 48 yards), Jeremiah Boyd (17-32, 422 yards, 2 TDs, INT), Amonyae Watson (6 rec, 197 yards, TD)
Grafton: Trevaun Walker (21 car, 254 yards, 4 TDs), Noah Owens (INT, TD)
Lafayette Routs Churchland in Group 4A East First Round
Second-seeded Lafayette had little trouble getting past Churchland at home during Friday's Group 4A East first round game.
Led by Kyle Johnson and Caleb Kraegenbrink, each of whom scored two rushing touchdowns, the Rams cruised to a 46-12 victory at home over the No. 7 Churchland Truckers.
Johnson started the scoring for Lafayette in the first quarter as he capped a 49-yard touchdown run to get the Rams on the board. Joeseph Kraegenbrink followed with a 67-yard touchdown of his own to put the Rams up 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Caleb Kraegenbrink got his first score in the second quarter as he plunged six yards into the end zone. That touchdown run was followed by a 50-yard touchdown scamper by Johnson.
With Lafayette leading 25-0, quarterback Cheyton Pine found wideout Hezekiah Grimsley for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 32-0 halftime edge.
Like the second quarter, the third quarter opened with a Caleb Kraegenbrink, this time from 12 yards out. With the rout well underway, John Douglass got into the fray with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Two late touchdowns by Churchland did nothing but make the score look more respectable as the Rams eased to the finish line with a decisive victory locked up.
Lafayette (11-0) will advance to the Group 4A East second round where they will meet No.6-seeded Heritage.
Individual statistics were not reported for this game.
Churchland: 0 0 6 6 — 12
Lafayette: 13 19 14 0 — 46
L: Johnson 49 run (Horne kick), 7-0
L: J. Kraegenbrink 67 run (run failed), 13-0
L. C. Kraegenbrink 6 run (run failed), 19-0
L: Johnson 50 run (pass failed), 25-0
L: Grimsley 27 pass from Pine (Horne kick), 32-0
L: C. Kraegenbrink 12 run (Horne kick), 39-0
L: Douglass 1 run (Horne kick), 46-0
C: Williams 27 pass form Gause (pass failed), 46-6
C: Williams 7 pass from Gause (pass failed), 46-12
Poquoson Stifles Warhill Offense in Shutout Win
Warhill's offense struggled to find consistency against Poquoson during Friday's first-round game in the Group 3A East tournament.
With the Warhill offense struggling, Poquoson dominated possession en route to a 38-0 victory against the Lions.
Poquoson's Dylan Freeman accounted for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns for Poquoson, giving the Islanders an early 14-0 lead.
The lead would only grow in the second quarter as the Islanders added 17 more points to take a 31-0 halftime lead.
A third quarter touchdown by Cole Jackson sealed the game for Poquoson, as the Islanders never looked back from their 38-point lead.
Warhill's season comes to a close with a 4-7 record after starting the season 0-5.
Individual statistics were not reported for this game.
Warhill: 0 0 0 0 — 0
Poquoson: 14 17 7 0 — 38
P: Freeman 5 pass from Hicks (Coccimiglio kick), 7-0
P: Freeman 4 run (Coccimiglio kick), 14-0
P: Henesey 8 run (Coccimiglio kick), 21-0
P: Coccimiglio 36 FG, 24-0
P: Ogburn 42 fumble return (Coccimiglio kick), 31-0
P: Jackson 13 run (Coccimiglio kick), 38-0