Turnovers once again played a significant role for Heights. Though the difference this time was they actually helped the Falcons instead of hurt them in a 43-16 win over visiting West on Friday.
Heights’ blowout victory in front of a patient-but-vocal homecoming crowd didn’t look like one at halftime, after the two teams traded touchdown drives on the game’s first four possessions. Only a successful two-point conversion from Heights and a failed one by West gave the Falcons a 15-13 advantage at the half.
But Heights defensive back Rashiid Arnold picked off sophomore quarterback Chaz Capps’ pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the second half. West fumbled the ball away one snap into its next possession, and Heights needed just three plays to capitalize again, this time on the first of two Tre King third-quarter touchdown runs.
The two-turnover/two-touchdown swing turned a two-point game into a three-possession lead for Heights in a span of 105 seconds.
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Heights coach Terry Harrison said it was a different but welcoming experience for his team.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of turnovers this season,” he said. “We’re just a few turnovers away from being better than a 2-2 team, and we knew that. We know we’re better than that. I was proud of the way our guys responded tonight.”
Heights took to the ground early and kept the West linebackers guessing by using five different ball carriers on the game’s first nine plays. The team effort covered 72 yards on 11 plays for a 7-0 lead five minutes in.
The game, delayed 53 minutes due to storms in the area, saw West stay in the game early thanks to a quick-scoring offense. The Pioneers needed just four plays to cover 54 yards on their first possession to tie the game on Javon Reed’s 41-yard touchdown run around the left end.
Heights reclaimed the leads on its next possession with another strong, clock-eating drive. Seven rushes covered 66 yards, capped by Darvin Batiste’s 28-yard touchdown run, and a successful two-point conversion put Heights back in front 15-7.
West answered with another quick strike when Capps found Trevon Mitchell behind the Heights secondary for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Mitchell’s attempt at a jump pass fell incomplete on the two-point conversion try, sending the visiting Pioneers to the locker room at halftime trailing 15-13.
But West’s quick answers for Heights’ long scoring drives ended in the second half. The Falcons’ defense kept West out of the end zone the rest of the game and a late 32-yard field goal from Devin Daignault was the only way West managed to score.
The Heights offense, however, continued its dominant ground game in the second half. Eight ballcarriers ran through the West defense for a combined 377 yards on 61 carries. The long scoring drives, sustained with 22 first downs and capped by five rushing touchdowns, were fueled by a team average of a little more than 6.1 yards per carry.
The true team effort came without a single ballcarrier tallying 100 rushing yards. Batiste had the most with 85 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Jermaine Wiley added 80 yards on 14 touches, while King found the end zone twice and finished with 67 yards on 14 carries.
Though the Falcons’ offense was successful, it wasn’t balanced. Junior quarterback Trenton Autry was injured in the first half and replaced by senior Forlanda Parker, who completed 1 of 7 pass attempts.
H — Grant Smallwood 27 run (Luis Rodriguez kick)
W — Javon Reed 41 run (Devin Daignault kick)
H — Darvin Batiste 28 run (conversion good)
W — Trevon Mitchell 63 pass from Chaz Capps (conversion failed)
H — Rashiid Arnold 29 interception return (Rodriguez kick)
H — Tre King 4 run (Rodriguez kick)
H — King 4 run (Rodriguez kick), 4:16
Rushing – West: Trevon Mitchell 11-13, Javon Reed 6-57-1, Kalin Collins 3-5,Tyrell Saunders 1-0, Chaz Capps 7-(-16). Heights: Grant Smallwood 3-40-1, Darvin Batiste 11-85-1, Tre King 14-67-2, Jermaine Wiley 14-80, Forlanda Parker 4-15, Armond McCray 5-34-1, Trenton Autry 5-31, Sean Deshazer 5-25.
Passing – West: Chaz Capps 5-8-1 137. Heights: Forlanda Parker 1-7 17.
Receiving – West: Trevon Mitchell 1-63-1, Jerremiah Johnson 1-(-1), Kalin Collins 1-17, Irving Henriquez 1-57. Heights: Edward Porter 1-17.