Hallandale quarterback Tyler Huntley has had a prolific senior season throwing the football around.
Brian Burns and American Heritage’s defense finally put the brakes on that Friday night, sacking Huntley three times, forcing four turnovers and making Friday night’s heavyweight clash for the District 16-5A title a lot easier than most expected.
Behind three rushing touchdowns from quarterback Josh Brown and 309 yards rushing, the Patriots pounded the Chargers 38-15 to earn themselves home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs in two weeks and a home field for a potential second round rematch with Hallandale (7-2) in three weeks.
“We heard they were a good offense, all the numbers Tyler Huntley had been putting up,” said Burns, who sacked Huntley twice. “But we didn’t focus on that. We focused on getting better and going up against this guy [Brown] and our offense because this is the best offense in the country. So we came out, got to it and we just got on a roll.”
After forcing Hallandale to punt on their opening possession, Heritage (8-1) marched 87 yards on four plays and took a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Kyshaun Bryan with 7:09 left in the first quarter. Moments later, Heritage cashed in a Zach Moss fumble with a 37-yard Oren Milstein field goal to make it 10-0.
Hallandale answered and made it 10-7 with a 37-yard Huntley to Demari Simpkins touchdown pass with 4:02 remaining in the opening quarter. But Heritage’s defense shut things down from there.
Back-to-back Huntley fumbles on a scramble and then a Burns sack led to 14 Heritage points. First, Brown scored on a 1-yard dive with 4:18 left in the half and then on a 2-yard dash with :39 left in the half to make it 24-7 at the intermission.
Heritage then took the opening drive of the second half and scored in six plays, Bryan capping that drive with a 6-yard run. Bryan finished with 104 yards on 16 carries, Brown with 86 yards on 10 carries (including a 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter) and senior Khalil Herbert finished with 99 yards rushing on nine carries.
“We just stayed true to ourselves,” Brown said of the Heritage offense, which threw for only 39 yards in the game. “We knew our game plan. We stuck to it. Even when they started stopping us a little bit, we knew it was only temporary. Nobody can play with us for a full 48 minutes.”
Huntley finished 20 of 39 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But he was clearly frustrated by various Cover 2 and Cover 4 schemes in the secondary by Heritage as well as a relentless pass rush.
The Chargers brought the sledgehammer they use for their usual pregame ritual and slammed it on the field prior to the game. There was also plenty of trash talking between the players — even in the second half when Heritage was well in front. Burns at one point — while he was standing on the sidelines with Heritage’s offense on the field — pleaded with Hallandale cornerback Romelo Webster to stop talking and focus.
“We got to understand that’s not our game,” Burns said of the jawing. “We play between the whistles. We don’t get into all that extra stuff. And the fact that they came in our house with all that extra stuff, that’s really disrespectful. When it comes to this next playoff game coming up, you see that score, it might be worse next time.”