Jorel Avila broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and carried two defenders into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown, and the Heritage High players and coaches then raced onto the football field to celebrate a 51-48 overtime win over Antioch on Friday.
"I just had to get it in," Avila said. "I honestly underestimated them, thinking they would probably be the same old Antioch, but they are one of the best teams we have played."
Antioch and Heritage entered their Bay Valley Athletic League opener with a lot to prove. The Patriots (3-3 overall) opened the season talking about the desire to win a league title but found themselves with a losing record entering league play. Meanwhile, the Panthers (5-1) opened with five straight wins and were looking to prove they were a force.
The game was an instant classic, featuring nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, a 91-yard kickoff return and an 82-yard pass play.
Antioch's Hunter Karnthong, who had 139 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, sliced up the Heritage defense all night, and he kept the Panthers alive at the end of regulation, hitting a 31-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime tied at 45-45.
Elbert Hamilton added 129 yards and two scores on just 11 carries, and Eddie Robinson ran for 94 yards on 11 carries and returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown before leaving with a leg injury.
"I'm proud of these guys," Antioch coach John Lucido said.
Avila led all rushers with 189 yards on 31 carries, but it was the Patriots passing game that kept them in the game. Junior quarterback Anthony Carter set a school record with 270 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-24 passing.
Carter's biggest play came after Hamilton had put Antioch back on top 28-24 with a 40-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
On the next play from scrimmage, Carter dropped back and fired the ball more than 50 yards in the air, hitting Carter Blaise in stride for an 82-yard touchdown.
The Patriots improved to 5-0 all-time against the Panthers.