After John Moreland’s third touchdown Friday night gave Heights a four-touchdown cushion in the first half against Northwest — something that was hard to imagine entering the game — a wave of frustration that had been bridling the team’s offense was released in a 55-21 victory that featured Heights’ new hurry-up offense.
“It felt good,” Moreland said. “I knew I was doing it for my teammates. And for the crowd. I know they’ve wanted it for a long time and it’s about time we gave it to them.”
And did Heights ever give it to them. The Falcons scored on eight of their first nine drives and rolled up more than 500 yards of offense, including 410 rushing.
Moreland orchestrated scoring drives of 8, 12, 5 and 13 plays in the first half out of the hurry-up, flex bone offense. Heights picked up 19 first downs, with Moreland converting 3 of 4 third downs with dump passes to Lewis Taylor out of the backfield.
By half, Moreland had accounted for 160 yards of offense and three touchdowns. He would finish with 118 passing yards and 88 rushing.
“I think one of the things that helped John was that he was so busy,” coach Rick Wheeler said. “I think in the first two weeks he was trying to do too much. (With the changes) he was just relying on his instincts and his reads and his keys and he did a wonderful job.”
Northwest running back Demarcus Robinson failed to ever establish a rhythm. Northwest’s first four drives ended with two three-and-outs, a lost fumble on a botched snap and a failed fourth down attempt.
Northwest (1-2) coach Weston Schartz declined an interview request.
The defining play for Heights’ defense came in the second quarter when Robinson was met in the backfield by Zerrance Brickhouse and dropped for loss. Robinson did not play in the second half and finished with 48 yards.
“I just listened to my coach,” Brickhouse said. “He always tells us to shove and close and then I just made the hit.”
It’s hard to say whether the change of pace impacted the offense by that wide of margin, rather most on the team pointed to the unity among the players entering the game.
“We played like a team,” said Heights running back Delmonte Ross, who finished with 113 yards rushing. “We played together and we just had fun. That’s all we did.”
But did the Falcons really foresee a 34-point dismantling of the pre-season City League favorite?
“We knew we had it,” Moreland said. “We knew it was there. But we were just missingæ.æ.æ. believing in each other. I don’t think it mattered that it was Northwest, it was just anybody we were going to do that.”
Northwest (1-2) 0 7 0 14 — 21 Heights (1-2) 12 16 20 7 — 55
H—Moreland 8 run (kick failed)
H—Randolph 2 run (pass failed)
H—Strand 29 pass from Moreland (Strand pass from Moreland)
H—Moreland 4 run (Randolph run)
NW—A. Thurman 2 run (Drake kick)
H—Ross 4 run (Farley kick)
H—Smith 57 run (Farley kick)
NW—Chadick 1 run (Drake kick)
H—Smith 16 run (run failed)
NW—Etheridge 4 run (Drake kick)
H—Ross 63 run (Farley kick)
Rushing—Northwest, A. Thurman 9-65, Tymony 13-51, Robinson 13-48, Chadick 5-12, Etheridge 4-10; Heights, Ross 9-113, Moreland 15-88, Smith 7-84, Randolph 14-63, Deshazer 2-33, Reed 4-20, Taylor 2-5, Fleming 1-4.
Passing—Northwest, Wiedemann 2-4-0-15, Chadick 2-6-0-13; Heights, Moreland 8-13-0-118.
Receiving—Northwest, A. Thurman 2-13, Putman 1-13, Love 1-2. Heights, Strand 5-67, Taylor 2-36.