The four turnovers and six drives coming up scoreless in opposition territory had the Heights football team frustrated, but never worried.
When you have a defensive line like the Falcons, there is a pretty wide margin for error.
Even with its offense discombobulated for most of Heights’ 20-0 victory over East on Thursday night at home, the Falcons improved to 5-2 and 1-0 in Class 6A-District 6 because their defense held East to less than one yard per play (36 yards on 39 plays).
“It’s a good feeling because our D has a lot of playmakers,” said sophomore tailback Tre King, who scored both of Heights’ offensive touchdowns. “We know they have our back.”
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If that wasn’t the case, then Heights may have had some trouble.
Five first-half possessions showed promise, but two stalled in East territory and two others were cut short by lost fumbles. The score remained tied at zero at halftime.
On its final 19 carries of the first half, Heights only netted 47 yards.
“Sometimes when that happens, it almost snowballs on you,” Heights coach Terry Harrison said. “They had us really frustrated. They had a great plan and they definitely caused us some fits.”
Given countless opportunities to jumpstart an upset bid, the Blue Aces couldn’t capitalize on the momentum swings their defense provided.
Twelve full drives in the game produced a grand total of two first downs, 33 rushing yards on 31 carries, and nine three-and-outs for East.
“Our offense is not holding up their end of the deal,” East coach Brian Byers said. “We just got manhandled up front. It’s as simple as that. Their defensive line crushed our offensive line and that was the ballgame.”
It turned out that Heights’ defense could have survived on its own, as Aderio Ammons dislodged the ball from East’s Deonta Thomas and teammate Kyle Martin scooped it up and returned it 77 yards untouched for the game’s first score two minutes into the third quarter.
“Things were drifting down and everyone was hollering at each other,” Martin said. “That was definitely a relief, a relief for our offense. It kind of gave them the push, the momentum.”
Heights’ defensive line, composed of Ammons, Trayon Hayes, Carlos Taylor, and Deontre Spires, was so disruptive that the final five drives for the Falcons started inside East territory.
A great defensive effort kept East (2-5) in the game, but a better one moved Heights one win closer to qualifying for the state playoffs.
It was the second consecutive shutout for the Falcons, third on the season, and fourth time they have not allowed a touchdown.
“We have great players on that side of the ball,” Harrison said. “We take great pride in playing great defense. We’re definitely going to lean on them.”
H—Martin 77 fumble return (Rodriquez kick)
H—King 3 run (Rodriquez kick)
H—King 6 run (Rodriquez kick failed)
Rushing—East, Thomas 13-26, Patrick 10-7, Bousfield 8-0; Heights, King 13-79, Wiley 13-52, McCray 13-36, Autry 4-32, Parker 9-23.
Passing—East, Bousfield 1-8-1-3; Heights, Parker 1-5-0-7.
Receiving—East, McGarity 1-3; Heights, King 1-7.