The Heritage High School football team literally waited to the last minute to win the Oct. 24 game as the Eagles scored a touchdown with nine seconds left on the clock to post a 21-14 victory over Fountain-Fort Carson.
“We won by the skin of our teeth, which is how we have won four of our last five games,” Mike Griebel, Heritage coach, said after the game. “Our kids kept battling tonight and it finally paid off for us. We are a young team but we are growing up and our young pups are getting tougher, so we are a much better team now than at the state of the season. This win gives us a winning record and a better seeding in the upcoming playoffs.”
The Eagles wrapped up the regular season with a 5-4 record, which includes a 4-2 league record. The Oct. 24 game was key because Heritage and the Trojans came into the contest tied for third in the Pioneer League. The Eagles win earned them undisputed possession of third place.
Heritage opens the postseason at Mountain Range on Nov. 1.
It didn't look great for Heritage in the early going Oct. 24 against Fountain-Fort Carson.
Each team was able to move the ball at times, but neither team was unable to put together a sustained scoring drive, so the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie.
Late in the second quarter, the Eagles drove sown, stalled on the nine-yard line, and Alex Null booted a field goal. But the lead didn't last long as about 90 seconds later the Trojans scored on a 65-yard touchdown pass play. Fountain-Fort Carson got the ball back with 1:55 left on the clock and scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half.
Heritage came back late in the third period and kicked a field goal to make the score 14-6 going into the final period.
The Eagles put together a solid drive, Rob Sublette ran the ball in for a touchdown and quarterback Mikey Grieble passed to Dalton Thorpe for the two-point conversion to tie the score.
After the kickoff, the Trojans had a third and a yard for a first down, but the Eagles stopped the runner in the backfield to force a punt.
Heritage got the ball on their own 35-yard line with 4:02 left in the game. They kept the ball on the ground, ate up yardage and took time off the clock. A draw play took the ball to the two-yard line with 18 seconds left in the game. Sublette took a handoff, got solid blocking and beat the defenders around the left end as he crossed into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
The coach said the emotion shifted in favor of the Eagles at halftime.
“This is senior night, the last game of the regular season,” Griebel said. “Our underclassmen got fired up and came out determined to do a better job so this would be a win for our seniors. It was a great victory for all our kids, our team and our school.”
The Eagles used the ground game to their advantage. Quarterback Griebel was the No. 2 rusher as he carried 21 times for 101 yards.
However, Sublette, a senior, was the rushing leader as he carried 21 times for 112 yards, caught one pass for 18 yards and scored two touchdowns.
“The first half they came out fired up and we struggled a little,” he said after the game. “At halftime, we realized we had to take it to them. We just kept driving at them, they began to get tired and the holes kept getting bigger and bigger.”
He said the winning touchdown came on an isolation play that had been working all game.
“I got the ball and started left,” Sublette said. “As I started moving, I saw our linemen had sealed off the inside for me so, I turned upfield and outran the defenders and made it to the end zone. Scoring that touchdown is special and something I will always remember.”
The Trojans moved the ball pretty well in the first half, but the Eagles tightened things down to keep them in check in the second half.
Andrew Schaffer and Kenton Hewitt each had 10 tackles while senior Steven Gray was the tackle leader with 19.
“It was a tough night at first. They are a good team with big, strong kids and they had a bit of a size difference,” Gray, a senior, said after the game. “However, we played hard, we played fast and it paid for us.”
Gray said he used to play fullback on offense and linebacker on defense, but this year, he has just played inside linebacker.
“I got hurt last year playing fullback so the coach decided I should focus just on defense this season,” he said. “I am playing next to my brother Anthony, who is a sophomore. I'm sure he'll be a defense leader next year.”