The Northwest Whitfield Bruins scored the game-winning touchdown with five seconds remaining off a 62-yard pass from quarterback Owen Brooker to wide receiver Ray Morrison.
The Heritage Generals claimed their first lead of the night over regional opponent Northwest Whitfield Bruins with 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. After Northwest elected to punt on a fourth down with two yards to go, Heritage quarterback Kaden Swope connected with wide reciever JC Armour, diving towards the back of the endzone, for a 15-yard touchdown.
The two-point conversion failed, but the game seemed already over.
15-14, Heritage, with 27 seconds left. The Bruins side of the stands were beginning to clear out while the Generals were celebrating. Northwest Whitfield had two timeouts and 80-yards ahead of them. They have not scored since 5:45 in the second quarter.
The Bruins opened up the drive with two checkdowns to comeback routes, picking up 10 and eight yards a piece. They had to burn a timeout when their wide receiver failed to reach out of bounds.
The clock had ticked down to 15 seconds remaining in the game.
The remnants of what once was a large crowd groaned. They knew they had to take a chance. They needed one more deep shot.
Northwest’s Brooker checked to his right as the ball was snapped. He was eying down wide reciever Morrison. As his arm winded up, the Heritage safety began to close in on the target, reading Owens’ eyes. The ball launched out of his arms, tight spiral and all, and was placed where only Morrison’s gloves could reach.
Similarly to the Minnesota Miracle in 2018, Morrison snagged the pass, putting his body between the Heritage defensive back. Somehow, Morrison broke the tackle –one draped over his shoulder and the other by his knees– and sprinted down the sideline. Who knows how he was able to stay in bounds.
A Northwest Miracle.
Northwest would convert the two point conversion, extending their advantage to a touchdown, 22-15 with five seconds remaining.
The Generals would fail on a hail mary as the pass fell incomplete as the scoreboard buzzer sounded. The Bruins sprinted to their band, arms over each other, and swayed as the alma mater played. After the singing stopped, the players rushed to the locker room, eager to celebrate as a team. It was a storybook ending to an incredible game.
The game started out with scores by both teams. Then, the defenses settled in.
Before the final two drives, it was a defensive checkmate. Penalties for both teams plagued drives. Third down conversions were few and far between. Both defenses forced a turnover.
On their first drive, the Bruins were able to easily march down the field through the air and ground. Northwest Whitfield quarterback Owen Brooker topped the drive off with a rushing touchdown from the one yard line. The Bruins were up 7-0 with 6:47 remaining in the first quarter.
The Generals would attempt to answer with their own long, gruelling drive. The drive would drain the rest of the time left in the first quarter, giving the Heritage defense plenty of time to recover.
Alas, the drive would fall one yard short.
Consecutive quarterback sneaks were stuffed by the Northwest Whitfield defense, forcing a turnover on downs at their own one yard line.
Operating out of their own endzone to start the second quarter, the Bruins attempted to escape through the ground game. This would prove to be unsuccessful, as a host of Heritage defenders swarmed the Northwest Whitfield backfield, forcing a safety, and returning the ball to their offense.
The Bruins defense was back on the field after the safety, and yet again would pin their ears back to hold the Generals attack. A 43 yard punt would give Northwest the ball, and again, near their own endzone.
This drive would be vastly different than their previous attempt. The Bruins would answer their own mistake with large plays through the air. Overcoming a holding penalty that drove them outside of Heritage 30 yard line, Northwest quarterback Brooker connected with wide reciever Braxton Floyd to get within the 5 yard line. Following up the big play, a touchdown by freshman running back Cameron Collins put the Bruins up 14-2 with 5:45 left in the second quarter.
The Generals had one last chance before half to get back into the game. Quarterback Kaden Swope lobbed a 33 yard pass to wide receiver Tyler Cheatwood for a touchdown. Heritage went into halftime down 14-9. The defensive slugfest ensued, and the events of the fourth quarter unfolded.
“We felt like we always have a chance to score. We have an explosive offense and our guys found a way in the end,” said Northwest Whitfield Head Coach Josh Robinson. “I am so proud of my guys. Our M.O. is to fight until the final whistle and that's what our guys did.”
With the win, Northwest Whitfield improves to 4-3 on the season, 2-1 in their region. They jump Heritage for second place in AAAA Region 7. They will take on cross county rival Southeast Whitfield next week, October 22.
Following the loss, Heritage falls to 4-2 and 2-1 in region play, third in AAAA Region 7. The Generals will travel to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe next week, October 22.
HERITAGE 2 7 0 6 – 15
NORTHWEST 7 7 0 8 – 22
NW – Owen Brooker 1 yard run (Grant Holder kick) (6:47, 1st)
HT – Cameron Collins -2 run, Safety (11:07, 2nd)
NW – Jacob Brown 33 yard field goal (Grant Holder kick) (7:27, 2nd)
HT – Kaden Swope to Tyler Cheatwood 33 yard pass (Anderson Britton kick) (0:17, 2nd)
HT – Kaden Swope to JC Armour 15 yard pass (2 pt conversion failed) (0:27, 4th)
NW – Mason Parker 6 pass to Malachi Hill (Hudson Gray 2 pt conversion) (0:05, 4th)
HT STATS NW
13 1st Downs 17
109 Rush 110
216 Pass 236
325 Total 346
10-62 Penalties 8-80
1 Turnovers 1
3/124 Punts 3/98
Notable Individual Stats
Rushing: Owen Brooker 17-62-1 TD (NW), Cameron Collins 11-41-1 TD (NW); Paxton Mcrary 15-63 (HT), Kaden Swope 16-46 (HT).
Passing: Owen Brooker 11-15, 236 yards, 1 touchdown (NW); Kaden Swope 11-19, 216 yards, 2 touchdowns (HT).
Receiving: Ray Morrison 4-125-1 TD (NW), Brayden Morrison 2-27 (NW), Braxton Floyd 1-43 (NW); Tyler Cheatwood 4-113-1 TD (HT), JC Armour 1-15-1 TD(HT), Max Owens 1-20 (HT).
Records: Heritage (4-2, 2-1 AAAA); Northwest Whitfield (4-3, 2-1 AAAA).