Gen­er­als bear down against Bru­ins

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Chris Whit­field

The show­down that folks in Ca­toosa and Walker Coun­ties have hoped for all sea­son long will fi­nally come to fruition this Fri­day night.

While un­de­feated Ridge­land was coast­ing to 6-0 with a 62-0 home win over LaFayette, fel­low un­beaten Her­itage was play­ing its part in Tun­nel Hill as they dis­patched a reel­ing North­west Whit­field squad, 44-21, in a game that the 7-0 Gen­er­als led 44-7 go­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

Rid­ing a first-team de­fense which coach E.K. Slaugh­ter said had given up just four touch­downs in seven games, the Gen­er­als (3-0 in Re­gion 6-AAAA) will host the Pan­thers (2-0 in Re­gion 6-AAAA) on Fri­day night with the re­gion seem­ingly on the line in the bat­tle of un­beat­ens. Pick­ens (4-2, 2-0) still looms on the sched­ule for both teams, but this Fri­day’s win­ner will likely emerge as a fa­vorite for the ti­tle.

While the de­fense has been out­stand­ing for the Gen­er­als, the of­fense hasn’t been bad ei­ther. Add in the fact that Her­itage has scored a touch­down by ei­ther spe­cial teams or off of a de­fen­sive turnover in six of its seven games and it is easy to see why the Gen­er­als have be­come a vi­able threat to Ridge­land, which is fourth-ranked and has

been the con­sen­sus pick for the re­gion ti­tle since the pre­sea­son.

“When you can play well in all three phases of the game, you end up play­ing in big games like next week,” Slaugh­ter said. “It is hard to be­lieve we would be here four years ago, and I couldn’t be prouder of this staff and this se­nior class.”

Mean­while, the Bru­ins, who lost at home to Ridge­land, 48-7, on Sept. 23, saw their post­sea­son as­pi­ra­tions take a ma­jor hit on Fri­day.

Se­nior quar­ter­back Luke Shi­flett, who was al­ready play­ing with an in­jured wrist to his non-throw­ing arm which re­quired surgery, left the game with an an­kle in­jury and his sta­tus for the rest of the sea­son is up in the air.

The MTSU com­mit rolled his an­kle on the first se­ries of the game against the Gen­er­als, but played through the pain through much of the first half de­spite a no­tice­able limp and lim­ited mo­bil­ity. But on the Bru­ins’ fi­nal se­ries of the first half, Shi­flett rolled out of the pocket to avoid pres­sure and fi­nally couldn’t take any­more as the an­kle gave out and he crum­pled to the ground.

Even with Shi­flett, there was lit­tle the North­west of­fense could gen­er­ate and very few times the Bru­ins’ de­fense slowed the Gen­er­als down. One busted cov­er­age that al­lowed run­ning back Do­minique Sistrunk to get be­hind the Her­itage’s se­condary ac­counted for North­west’s only score against the Gen­er­als’ de­fense.

Take away Sistrunk’s 80-yard catch-and run for the score, and North­west had just 44 yards of to­tal of­fense in the first half.

Both teams sput­tered at the on­set with Her­itage fum­bling the ball away on its first pos­ses­sion and North­west only mak­ing a first down af­ter Shi­flett took a bad snap on a punt and made it

into some­thing.

But Her­itage scored on three of its next four pos­ses­sions, thanks to find­ing some rhythm on of­fense and a forced turnover.

Ryan Carter capped off an eight-play, 96yard drive with a 6-yard run on a drive that saw quar­ter­back Blake Bryan com­plete all four of his pass at­tempts for 68 yards.

North­west’s de­fense was able to get a stop as Bryan was in­com­plete on a fourth-down pass at­tempt at the North­west 32, but three plays later Her­itage’s de­fense made a play to to­tally shift mo­men­tum to the Gen­er­als.

The de­fen­sive rush off the edge that gave North­west fits all night forced Shi­flett to fum­ble the ball away and Her­itage re­cov­ered at the 15, set­ting up Bryan’s 15-pass over the mid­dle to Luke Grant for a 14-0 lead.

North­west seemed to get a stop it needed af­ter Her­itage’s next drive stalled at the Bru­ins’ 7, but the Gen­er­als con­verted on a fake field goal with a pass from holder Johnathon Hick­man to Brody Camp­bell for a 21-0 lead.

In the sec­ond half, North­west found lit­tle rhythm with fresh­man quar­ter­back Matthew Red­mond pressed into ac­tion. The Bru­ins’ first five plays of the sec­ond half went for neg­a­tive-18 yards and a fum­ble.

Carter scored on a 22-yard pass from Bryan on Her­itage’s first drive of the sec­ond half, and a 32-yard fum­ble re­turn by Jef­frey Curtis gave Her­itage a 35-7 lead with 1:53 left in the third quar­ter. Grant would add a 16-yard scor­ing re­cep­tion and the de­fense added a safety when a snap went over Red­mond’s head and he downed the ball in the back of the end­zone.

North­west (43, 1-2) got cos­metic touch­downs from Sistrunk on a 2-yard run and a 19-yard scor­ing run from Brady Hughes in the fourth.

Her­itage kicker Ryan Craft was 6-of-6 on ex­tra points.

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