Firebirds let Heritage slip away for 28-22 win
Amberleigh Dornseif | Special to The Enterprise
Southern Nash running back Jackson Vick (26) stiff-arms a Heritage defender during Friday’s game in Wake Forest. The Firebirds lost 28-22.
WAKE FOREST — For the first time in more than 15 years, Southern Nash football is 0-2 after the Firebirds watched host Heritage pull out a 28-22 win Friday night.
“I thought we had opportunities tonight, but we just didn’t finish,” said Firebirds head coach Brian Foster, whose team hasn’t lost more than one game in the regular season since 2015.
Southern Nash led 22-21 when senior Terrence Raspberry rumbled over the goal line from two yards and then basically did the same thing on the two-point conversion with 3:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.
However, the 4-A Northern Conference Huskies marched 63 yards in 16 plays — helped by two fourth-down conversions and one on third down — to score the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. Heritage quarterback Cade Cunningham, who threw for two earlier TDs, slammed over from the 1-yard on fourth down. The Huskies rolled up 381 offensive yards, with 252 coming through the air.
“They do what they do well but once again, we had the lead in the fourth quarter and just couldn’t keep it,” Foster said.
The Huskies (2-0) struck first on a 30-yard scoring strike from Cunningham to Jonah Portugal less than three minutes into the game. Southern Nash responded in the second quarter when senior quarterback Chason Royal found JoJo Hernandez for an 18-yard TD connection.
Junior Roan Wachowicz booted the first of two PATs to tie the score at 7-all with 8:17 left in the second quarter.
Sophomore Coleson Fields’ 24-yard TD run gave Heritage the lead going into halftime, but the Firebirds responded with a third-quarter drive culminating in a 1-yard TD run by junior Jackson Vick, who led Southern Nash with 61 yards on 19 carries.
A four-yard TD toss from Cunningham to Jalen Rochelle with 18 seconds left in the third quarter put the Huskies back in front until Raspberry’s TD and conversion run. Foster said there was no hesitation to play for the win instead of the tie.
“I think our guys know who we are and what we stand for,” he said.
Losing both nonconference games won’t necessarily kill Southern Nash’s playoff chances, but the Firebirds, who have won five straight 3-A Big East Conference titles, now must win a sixth conference crown to assure themselves of a spot in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs. The number of qualifying teams have been reduced by half due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving most conferences with one automatic bid.
“I wanted to play these two games and see where we are at. I thought it would be a good challenge for us,” Foster said.
Southern Nash 22
First Downs 11 14
Yards rushing 249 129
Yards passing 25 252
Passes-Comp.-Int. 6-2-1 36-21-0
Punts-Average 4-34 3-17
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 9-46 9-65
Score by quarters:
Southern Nash 0 7 7 8 — 22
Heritage 7 7 7 7 — 28
WFH — Portugal 30 pass from Cunningham (Hardy kick), 9:17, 1st.
SN — Hernandez 18 pass from Royal (Wachowicz kick), 8:17, 2nd.
WFH — Fields 25 run (Hardy kick), 7:03, 2nd.
SN — Vick 1 run (Wachowicz kick), 3:30, 3rd.
WFH — Rochelle 4 pass from Cunningham (Hardy kick), 0:18, 3rd.
SN — Raspberry 2 run (Raspberry run), 3:48, 4th.
WFH — Cunningham 1 run (Hardy kick), 0:10, 4th.
RUSHING — Jackson Vick 19-61, TD; Sammy Gandy 11-58; Jalen McClaston 2-1; Chason Royal 2-6; Justin Braswell 1-1; Xavien Smith 4-52; May 1-0; Zyshonne Pearce 3-72; Terrence Raspberry 1-2, TD; Team 1-minus 4.
PASSING — Chason Royal 6-2-1, 25 yards, TD.
RECEIVING — JoJo Hernandez 1-18; Zyshonne Pearce 1-7.
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