Heritage Academy quickly clears the slow start in the Lamar rout
MERIDIAN – Wesley Miller wasn’t running hard.
The Heritage Academy senior was able to take his time as he stepped through the middle of the grill in a first quarter kickoff against Lamar School in Friday’s season opener at Gray Cobb Field by Meridian.
Then a hole opened to the left of center, giving the light-footed defensive back space to run.
“Everyone had nice blocks,” Miller said.
He raced across the gap, shot a defender and found the left sideline. He followed him to the end zone for a 93-yard touchdown return, his teammates on the field – and on the bench – running with him.
A slow start for Miller – and for the Patriots – had quickly evaporated.
Mississippi State’s engagement electric play resulted in the first of six Heritage Academy touchdowns (1-0) in a 42-16 rout of Lamar (0-1), helping the Pats bounce back after a first misstep to launch the 2021 season. the right foot.
“To come out and perform like that, everyone is going non-stop on defense and attack, that’s good,” Miller said.
Junior quarterback Mack Howard threw touchdown passes to Mitchell Woodard and Trey Naugher in addition to running for a score, while junior Luke Fisher rushed for a pair of touchdowns.
Howard, a four-star prospect in the 2023 class, handed the ball to Lamar with a three-time interception in Friday’s game. But he played clean football the rest of the way, often coming out of the pocket to escape the pressure of the Raiders’ dangerous defensive front.
“He made a mistake, got out and more than fixed it,” Heritage Academy coach Sean Harrison said.
The same can be said for the Patriots overall after a disappointing 31-14 loss on the same field last season. Heritage Academy hit the road to take on Lamar after a week off and “fell flat,” Harrison said; Early in Friday’s game, signs of a similar outcome erupted when the Raiders’ Austin Acton grabbed Howard’s errant pass.
But Heritage Academy has done what its coaches have been preaching ever since Lamar’s name appeared under Week 1 of the 2021 schedule: He’s held on. After the Raiders walked to the 7-yard line, the Patriots held them to a field goal.
“We’ve been on them to respond in great times, when bad things happen – and of course, a bad thing happened the third game of the game,” Harrison said.
The deficit was short lived. Miller hosted the ensuing kickoff and Heritage Academy definitely took the lead. It was the first of several big games for the senior, who also won in high school on Friday.
“That’s why he’s a Division I player,” Harrison said. “That’s what he’s going to be: the best player on the pitch almost every night. He goes out and shows it.
Harrison said he still intended to use Miller as a weapon in the Patriots ‘offense, but the way Heritage Academy scored on Friday, the Bulldogs’ engagement was unnecessary.
Even without junior running back Braden Davidson, who broke his hand in last week’s jamboree, the Pats ran and managed to win the game against the Raiders. Woodard hit a 12-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to add to the lead before quarterback Lamar Zagar Cooper ran for 10 yards in the second.
Otherwise, however, the Patriots ‘undersized defensive line stifled the Raiders’ running game for most of the night. It was a result Harrison didn’t even expect.
“I thought when we entered this one that we knew the corners, the safeties, the outside” backers “, the” inside backers “are athletes, but we know that we are small up front,” he said. he declares. “I was curious. It probably surprised almost everyone.
And that turned Friday night’s game into a blowout. Howard ran for 3 yards and handed Naugher a dime before the end of the half, and Fisher escaped in the third quarter for two more touchdowns. Backup quarterback Thompson Reginbal even stepped into the game and naturally he completed his first career assist to take fourths and 11s and enter the red zone.
Yet Heritage Academy knows there are improvements to be made. The Raiders were able to pick up several thirds and longs in the air, and they sent Howard running for his life due to substandard blocking on several occasions.
“I think obviously the movie is going to show a lot of corrections,” Harrison said.
But the Patriots got the win they wanted – and convincingly. They will face Jackson Prep (0-1) at home next week in a game where no such slow start will be allowed.
“We still have things to work on, but it was a good effort,” Miller said.
Heritage Academy 42, Lamar School 16
AH 13 15 14 0 – 42
LS 3 7 6 0 – 16
LS – Zagar Cooper 28 FG, clock 6:18
HA – Wesley Miller 93 Kick Return (Todd Sharp Kick), 6:00 a.m.
HA – Mitchell Woodard 12 assists from Mack Howard (missed kick), timer 1:46
LS – Cooper 10 run (failed kick), clock 9:21
HA – Howard 3 run (Woodard run), time 4:57
HA – Trey Naugher 18 Howard pass, clock 0:48
LS – Davis McBrayer 17 assist from Cooper (missed kick), time 7:23
HA – Luke Fisher 52 run (Sharp kick), 6:17 clock
HA – Fisher 23 run (pointed kick); clock 3:28
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi state sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.