By David Grindstaff
Heritage built a seemingly comfortable 14 point lead going into the 4th quarter of their Western Highlands Conference match-up with Avery County Friday night in Burnsville but the Cougars had to fight off a furious Viking comeback to escape with a 36-28 win in overtime.
Cougar senior running back Lucas King scored on the first play of the overtime period and also added the two point conversion to give Heritage the lead after Avery County had knotted the score at 28-28 with a late touchdown.
The Vikings seemed poised to challenge the Cougar lead when they faced a third and goal at the one with their possession in the extra frame.
But a illegal procedure penalty, coupled with an unsportsmanlike flag on the Avery County bench pushed the Vikings back to the twenty yard line where on 4th down Daulton Buchanan broke up a pass in the end zone to preserve the hard fought win for the Cougars.
The Cougars took their opening possession of the game and drove to the Viking 26 yard line before a fumble stopped their progress in the turnover filled contest.
After the two teams exchanged a couple of punts in a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars grabbed a lead that they would not relinquish.
Heritage moved 92 yards in six quick plays to gain a 7-0 advantage on a 6 yard run by Drew Hoilman. The drive was highlighted by a 43 yard jaunt by Josh Meadows down to the Viking 20 yard line.
The lead grew to 14-0 following the first of three fumble recoveries by Colby Presnell. His takeaway was followed by a beautifully throw ball from Cougar QB Trevor Robinson to Daulton Buchanan, who got a step on his defender and made a nice catch over his shoulder at about the Viking 15 yard line and outran everyone to the end zone.
After Avery had trimmed the Heritage lead to 14-7 with a 47 yard run by Bryce Pitman on a sweep, the two teams traded scores late in the second quarter.
Mixing the run with the pass Heritage put together four plays to cover 67 yards to score and push their lead back out to 14 points when Robinson connected with Jake McClellan on a 48 yard bomb, for Robinson's second TD toss of the first half.
ACHS countered with a 9 play 67 yard drive to score on third down on a one yard plunge by Luke Chidress.
Heritage, which drove to the Viking 17 yard line before time ran out in the second quarter, led 21-14 at the half.
The Cougars kept up the strong offensive performance after another fumble recovery by Colby Presnell stopped a Viking threat at the Heritage 35 early in the second half.
Robinson hooked up with Daulton Buchanan to set Heritage up in the ACHS red zone. Drew Hoilman finished off the drive with a strong 2 yard run and together with the 4th straight PAT by Eddie Magna the Cougar extended their lead to 28-14.
The Vikings scored early in the 4th quarter following an interception of a Robinson pass to trim the Cougar lead to 7 points. Viking QB Tyler Polsgrove finished off an 85 yard drive with a one yard plunge after his pass to Austin Phillips had given Avery a first and goal inside the Heritage five yard line.
Avery County (2-8, 0-6) tied things up and sent the game into OT when Luke Childress broke off a 45 yard touchdown run with 5:30 left on in regulation to set up the exciting finish.
Heritage (4-5, 3-3) drove to the Avery 34 before time expired but a 4th down pass from Robinson to Hoilman missed its mark.
Drew Hoilman had his best game so far rushing the football. The Cougar senior running back picked up 103 yards on 13 carries to lead the Heritage offense that racked up 339 yards rushing and 528 yards total in their best offensive outing of the season.
Trevor Robinson connected on 11 of his 15 throws but had two interceptions in the 189 yard passing performance. Robinson has 1310 yards passing heading into the season finale with Madison (9-1, 5-1) this Friday night.
The Cougars host the red hot Patriots who are in the midst of their best season ever at the Madison County school.