Heritage Generals

There wasn't a Moon Pie to be seen anywhere on Jeff Sims Field Friday night, but there was plenty of R.C.

More than enough as far as Southeast Whitfield was concerned.

Ryan Carter, an All-State performer a season ago, showed a Homecoming crowd at Heritage High School why he earned the lofty award by putting on a show against the previously unbeaten Raiders in a 61-21 rout.

Carter had just two catches on the night. The first went for a nice 24-yard catch over the top of a defender in the endzone for a score, while the second was a highlight-worthy, 56-yard, zig-zagging catch-and-run that saw him cut back the entire the width of the field not once, but twice, before shaking a final tackler inside the 5-yard line and walking into the endzone.

He also showed off his speed, blazing through the Raiders virtually untouched for a 44-yard punt return for a score late in the first quarter and capped his night with a back-breaking 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 3:57 left in the first half after Southeast had briefly threatened to get back into the game.

"Ryan Carter is a freak and he went off tonight," Heritage head coach E.K. Slaughter said. "It's been tough for some of these guys because we've had some lopsided games and they have only gotten to play a couple of quarters. They're trying to make names for themselves. R.C. didn't get too many touches this week, but we made sure he was known tonight. He's a special kid."

Heritage got the anticipated showdown started with a lightning-fast 64-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard Jeffery Curtis run. Later in the opening stanza, the Generals sacked Raider quarterback Porter Johnson, forcing a fumble that Ridge Perkins recovered near midfield. Four plays later, Luke Grant took a jet sweep and raced seven yards to make it 13-0.

Carter's punt return just over a minute later added to the lead and a Johnathan Hickman fourth-down sack at the Southeast 24 set the table for Carter's first TD catch of the night from quarterback Blake Bryan, who finished the night 11-of-14 for 236 yards and four scores.

Grant then got the ball back for the offense with a spectacular, leaping, one-handed interception on the second play of the second quarter and Carter took it to the house with his second TD catch two plays later to make it 34-0.

The Raiders (5-1, 1-1) finally got on the board with a nice drive, ending with a 1-yard run by Christian Gillespie, and Southeast got seven points closer with 4:17 left in the half as Matt Jennings picked off a Bryan pass and raced 26 yards for the pick-six. But Carter knifed through the Southeast kick coverage team moments later and the game was no longer in doubt.

Bryan and Grant hooked up for a 68-yard scoring strike with 2:08 left to send the Generals into the locker room with a commanding 48-14 halftime lead.

The Heritage starters would put one more score on the board as Bryan's final pass of the night went for a 14-yard touchdown to Noah Boaz with 4:28 left in the third quarter. The back-ups would account for the final points of the night on a 14-yard run by freshman quarterback Nick Hanson with 2:28 to play.

Southeast's final TD came on a 12-yard pass from Johnson to Oscar Gonzalez late in the third quarter with Heritage's No. 2's in the game on defense.

Grant finished with 123 yards on just three catches, while Bryan paced the running game with 44 yards on five carries. Johnson was 19-of-32 for 204 yards for the Raiders, while Landon Eaton had seven catches for 87 yards. However, Southeast finished with just two net yards on the ground on 25 attempts.

"Individually there are a lot of guys that are developing," Slaughter said. "Blake just continues to get better and the guys around him just continue to get better. The offensive line is improving and Coach (Chris) Hight is doing a tremendous job with our special teams. We take a lot of pride in our special teams and they did a heck of a job tonight."

With the win, Heritage moved to 2-0 in Region 6-AAAA and improved to 6-0 for the first time in school history. Still, with a big game looming at Northwest Whitfield next Friday, Slaughter said his team still has a lot to improve on as they get deeper into the region slate.

"We had some penalties and we had some busts defensively," Slaughter said. "We are getting better, but we've got some good teams coming up in the next few weeks and we can't have things like that if we want to compete for a region championship."