Football

Heritage cruises past Sanderson, 28-7

Posted September 7
Updated September 9

Led by four Gunnar Holmberg touchdown passes and staunch defensive play, No. 2 Heritage was able to pick up a road victory at No. 14 Sanderson, 28-7.

The big plays came early for Heritage. After punting on their opening possession, the Huskies (4-0) forced their first of two turnovers of the game when senior Joseph Boletepeli picked off Sanderson quarterback Devon Brooks inside the redzone and returned the ball into Spartan territory. Two plays later, Holmberg found senior Devin Grant down the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown to give Heritage a 7-0 lead with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter.

“If they stop the pass, we’re going to run. If they stop the run, we’re going to pass, and we were able to do that tonight,” said Holmberg. “Shout out to my O-line, and my receivers for making some great catches and making me look good. We all meshed together.”

Both teams would trade possessions until late in the first half, when Holmberg, a Duke commit, hooked up with Grant down the left sideline again, this time for 32 yards out with 43 seconds to play in the first half, giving Heritage a 14-0 lead. Holmberg finished the night 10 of 16 passing for 162 yards and 4 scores.

Sanderson (2-2) wouldn’t go down quietly to end the second quarter. Working the ball down the field quickly, the Spartans were able to down to the five-yard line as Brooks found Josh Vines down the middle of the field before calling their last timeout with just under ten seconds remaining in the half. But Sanderson’s attempt to score before the half would fall short, as Anton Popov would get stopped at the one-yard line after Brooks found him in the right flat and time expired.

The Spartans start the second half with a big play they desperately needed. Spartan sophomore would return Tyrell Ford second half kickoff after fumbling it all the way to the Heritage 41. Five plays later, NC State commit Trent Pennix would take an option pitch from Brooks 28 yards up the left sideline to cut the deficit in half, 14-7. Pennix racked up 110 yards on the ground on 20 carries.

“We just got to keep our head in the game,” Pennix said. “When a team like that gets ahead, we can’t let it get to us. So we just to keep fighting like we did in the fourth quarter.”

Later in the third quarter, Heritage’s defense forced another turnover, as junior Drake Thomas jumped on a loose football at the Sanderson seven yard line. Three straight Huskie penalties put them back all the way at the Sanderson 35, but Holmberg would find Grant deep down the left sideline again for another touchdown, pushing the lead back up to 14 at 21-7. Grant finished the game with 106 yards on three receptions, all of which were touchdowns.

“I think he’s the best jump ball guy in the state, honestly,” Holmberg said of Grant.

After forcing a three-and-out, Heritage would strike quickly as Holmberg found Christian Staresina deep down the middle of the field between two defenders from 39 yards out to give Heritage a 28-7 with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Following a turnover on downs, Heritage turned to NC State commit Ricky Person to ground out the remainder of the game as they were able to run the clock out and earn another victory. Person finished with 104 yards rushing on 18 carries.

“At the start of the game, we weren’t getting the yards we wanted,” Person said. “We kept pushing, and kept pushing, and then eventually the defense got tired and we were able to bust a few runs towards the end of the game which we needed to run out the clock.

Sanderson travels to Cary next week to take on Green Hope, while Heritage hosts Jordan. Both games are set to kick off at 7:00 p.m.

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