Heritage knocked William Byrd out of the playoffs in the second round last season on the way to a berth in the state championship game. This week the Pioneers and Terriers met again at Lynchburg's City Stadium. Heritage has been flying under the radar just a bit while Byrd has been one of the hottest teams around over the last half of the season.
Heritage came into tonight's contest a perfect 11 and 0, but they knew they'd have their hands full against the Terriers strong run game. Byrd came into the contest riding 3-straight wins and looking for some revenge against the Pioneers, who ended their season this time last year. Let's take you our to City Stadium to see how this one played out.
Brad Bradley and his top seeded Pioneers putting their undefeated record on the line against the 9 and 2 Terriers in a win or go home game. Heritage set the tone on the opening drive as Frankie Hickson lowered his shoulder and got in for the 4 yard Pioneer touchdown. They led 7- nothing through the first quarter. On the first drive of the second quarter though, Byrd pulled even. Zac Hill kept it himself and weavee his way through the Pioneer defense for the 25 yard score. Just a few minutes later, Heritage was back on top. Hickson again. Got the hand-off from Austin Fitzgerald and turned it in to a 64 yard touchdown run. Hickson scored another TD before the break, giving Heritage the 21-7 lead at the half.
Frankie Hickson, 7 TDs in win, "I couldn't do any of this without my fantastic offensive line. And once again, the best offensive line in the state of Virginia."
And Hickson had plenty more in the tank in the second. He was in from a yard out to make it a 21-point Pioneer lead. Byrd closed the gap on their ensuing possession. Hill kept it himself and broke loose for a huge 74 yard TD, giving the Terriers new life, now 28-14. Heritage kept on the throttle and took the wind out of their sails a few minutes later. Hickson was in for his 5th TD of the game. And how about another? On 4th and one, Hickson got the first down and some more. Across the goal line making it 41-14 with under 10 minutes to play. Byrd was not giving up though. Hill hit Dylan Kearney for a rare Terriers pass play. Kearney took it down to the one and Hill punched it in the next play. Byrd scored twice in 12 seconds to make it 41-28 with 7 minutes to play. But Heritage ate up some clock on their next possession and Hickson capped-off the drive from 3 yards out. Hickson with all 7 Pioneer touchdowns, leading Heritage to the 47-28 win over William Byrd.
Austin Fitzgerald, Heritage Quarterback, "We had a great practice this week. We just put everybody in that could get the job done. Had 100% effort at practice and we just came out here and got the job done."
Frankie Hickson, "We knew we had to come out. We had to come out and represent Heritage. As you can see, the 'H' is right there. It's the first time that it's ever happened and we had to come out and represent Heritage in the Pioneer way."
Jeff Highfill, William Byrd Head Coach, "The kids played hard. I can't blame the effort at all. A little too much speed on the other side. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. We had things going early and messed up but the effort was great. Great group of kids. Played hard."
Brad Bradley, Heritage Head Coach, "You know I thought all week long we challenged our defense and tonight they stepped-up and got it done. Our kids have been battle tested all year long. Nothing's been easy for us this year. We've had to battle every single game. We came out and we got a big lead. We had a couple things happen to us-- self-inflicted wounds but we figured out how to find a way to win. And again, I got a great coaching staff, great bunch of kids and we get to practice another week and that's a good thing."
With the win, Heritage improves to 12-0, advancing to the next round of the playoffs where they will face Hidden Valley. As for William Byrd, their season comes to an end with a final record of 9 and 3.