Middle Creek stuns Heritage, 28-24

Middle Creek turned heads Friday evening with an unexpected 28-24 victory over Heritage.

The Mustangs dominated the first half in every possible way. Middle Creek quarterback Sean Brown kicked off scoring with with an 11-yard scramble for a touchdown with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.

Heritage struggled with penalties all night. On one offensive drive in the first half, the Huskies were hit with 50 penalty yards.

Later in the first half, the Mustangs called upon one of the school’s best basketball players to increase its lead on the gridiron. Tharius Suggs, who is just a sophomore, made an impressive leaping grab over a Heritage defender from four yards out to give the Mustangs a two-possession lead.

Four minutes later, Brown found a wide open Sean Horton for a 55-yard receiving touchdown. Middle Creek led 21-0 with 3:39 left until halftime. That score would remain on the board throughout the intermission.

Heritage certainly did not go down without a fight. In the third quarter, the Huskies defense willed the team back into contention.

Drake Thomas, who will play at NC State next fall, came up with a momentum-shifting 35 yard pick-six off of Brown. After the extra point, Middle Creek’s lead was cut to 21-7. On the next possession, the Huskies came up with another interception, this time via cornerback Robert Lewis.

Heritage took the strong field position and turned it into its first offensive touchdown of the night. Junior quarterback Walker Harris managed to connect with junior wide receiver Joshua Crabtree on a 23 yard fade route into the end zone. The Creek lead dwindled to 21-14.

Three minutes later, the Huskies tied the game. Ryan Moore caught a short pass from Harris, made a move, and glided into the end zone for a 19 yard score.

From there, the two teams traded turnovers. Middle Creek threw yet another interception to the Huskies in the late third quarter, this time to Jacob Porter. On the next Heritage possession, Harris got picked off by Sherrod Ray in Mustang territory.

Despite the previous drive getting cut short, the Huskies managed to get the ball back quickly and take the lead.

A Ben Steele 42-yard field goal gave Heritage its first advantage on the scoreboard all night, 24-21. Seven minutes and forty seconds remained in the game. Having scored 24 unanswered points, all momentum appeared to be on the side of the Huskies.

However, Middle Creek had final say. Anthony Robinson went untouched for a 55 yard touchdown that left the Heritage crowd stunned and gave the Mustangs ownership of the game’s final score.

Heritage was unable to muster anything offensively over the final seven minutes of the game. The Huskies were given one more shot with less than a minute left, but went four downs and out.

Middle Creek avenged its loss last week against Rocky Mount. The Mustangs went under-the-radar over the offseason, but there may be something to this Randy Ragland-led squad.

This is the first time Heritage has lost a home opener since 2011. The Huskies struggled with penalties and consistency on offense throughout the night.

Middle Creek (1-1, 0-0 SWAC conference) has the pleasure of getting to host the dominant Wake Forest Cougars next week at home. Heritage (1-1, 0-0 NAC 6 conference) needs a good showing next week at Millbrook to get back on track as conference play slowly approaches.