American Heritages vaunted offense was shut out for the first time this season on Friday night.
Fortunately for the Patriots, their defense found the end zone and kept their opponent away from it.
Senior lineman Julian Perez scooped up a fumble on Heritages first defensive play of the night and walked into the end zone. Those six points were the only ones scored all night as Heritage topped visiting Daytona Beach Mainland 6-0.
The game may have been even uglier than the score indicates.
Heritage never got on track offensively thanks to numerous miscues and penalties.
Sony Michel, one of the top backs in the country, failed to break loose against the Buccaneers (4-1, ranked fifth in Class 6A) and was held to 65 yards on 17 carries.
Michel, however, was the bright spot for the Patriots offense as Heritage (4-1) gained a grand total of 150 yards.
The Patriots were, however, called for 16 penalties worth 152 yards. Two touchdowns, one in each half, were called back on penalties.
Heritages defense was the star of this show as the Patriots held Mainland to 74 yards with 44 coming in the second half. Carter Jacobs sealed the win with an interception at midfield in the final minute.
Heritages defense was really only threatened once. Meiko Dotson took the opening kickoff of the second half 63 yards to the Heritage 16. After another penalty, the Bucs had first-and-goal from the 8.
The Patriots didnt let Mainland any closer as the Bucs moved backward. On fourth down, Chris Miglioranzis 25-yard field-goal attempt was swatted down and the 6-0 lead would continue to stand.
American Heritage dominated the opening half yet had little to show for it. Thanks to sloppy play and a barrage of yellow flags, the Patriots offense never got into sync.
The Patriots outgained Mainland 90-30 in the first half (almost all of Mainlands positive yards came on a single drive in the second) yet took a 6-0 lead into the half.
The Patriots looked strong on their initial drive, yet bogged down after driving to the 24. A pair of penalties knocked Heritage back to the 40, and Mainland took possession after a punt.
The Patriots scored their lone touchdown of the night on Mainlands initial offensive play when Perez snagged Kaylo Hannahs fumble off an end-around handoff at the 10 and went into the end zone unscathed.
Heritage didnt come that close to the end zone again in the first half as it accumulated 80 yards in penalties off everything from blocks in the back to roughing Mainlands punter deep in Bucs territory.
Even though Heritages offense was unhinged in the first half, its defense made plays all over the place.
The Patriots forced three turnovers in the opening half, and if not for running back Trey Rodriguez making things happen while taking direct snaps, Mainlands offense would have been underwater.
In the first half, Rodriguez ran for 44 yards; the rest of his team accounted for minus-14 yards of offense. Rodriguez didnt play in the second half (ribs) as Heritages defense continued to push the Bucs around.