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The good news is that Jefferson Forest proved it could match up quite well with what many consider the finest team in the State at the 3A level.
The bad news is that it took the Cavs a quarter of play before showing it could do so.
"We made some mistakes and let them go up," said JF Head Coach Don Rice. "You can't do that against a good football team."
JF spotted Heritage a 14-point lead in the first quarter before snapping out of a funk and playing even-up with the Pioneers. In the end, it was Heritage which prevailed, 38-27.
"Our offense was running on all cylinders," said Heritage Head Coach Brad Bradley of the opening quarter. "But then they ground us to a halt and took our momentum away."
The first half had many of the Cav faithful thinking this could be a redux of last week when their guys rebounded from a 21-3 deficit to overcome Brookville.
This time, the halftime score read 14-7, due in large part to Cam Miller's dynamic bolt through the heart of the Heritage defense. Miller ran 56 yards off a counter play, outracing a posse of Pioneers into the end zone.
The Cavs drew to within four points when Matthew Crider booted a 40-yard field goal early in the second half. But the Cavs would get no closer.
"I love Matt Crider kicking field goals," said Rice, of the fellow who is probably the finest soccer player in the Seminole District. "But I would prefer the six points (we'd get from a touchdown."
Some seemingly minor mistakes (such as a bad snap and some missed assignments) kept JF out of the end zone and settling for Crider's feats of footdom. The senior also had another field goal of 30 yards.
What may have been the costliest mistake of the game may have only been partially self-inflicted. Quarterback Ryan Crist hooked up with ace receiver Malik Stewart on a 77-yard touchdown bomb of a pass to make it 28-17. JF, however, lost some of the wind from its sails on the ensuing kickoff. Losing containment resulted in a long return that set the Pioneers up on the Cav 10.
The JF defense rose to the occasion, however, with Heritage settling for a Kieran Phelps field goal attempt.
On that try, Chris Tidwell seemed to get a meaty mitt on the ball as his momentum carried him into Phelps.
The zebras called Tidwell for roughing the kicker. If they'd seen it as a blocked kick, there would have been no roughing.
The ball's trajectory seemed to indicate that it had been affected in its flight. But, the call didn't go JF's way.
"I hate to see kids make great plays but get a loss," said Rice.
Speaking of great plays, all three of JF's touchdowns came on big plays. In addition to Miller's amble and Stewart's long reception, Crist scored on a 33-yard jet of his own.
Bradley had high praise for the Jefferson Forest signal caller. "I like him; he's a good competitor," said the Heritage honcho. "He does a nice job throwing the ball and throws a good ball. He's a gutsy kid who will give teams a hard time."
Tidwell keyed the defense with 10 tackles, two assists and a fumble recovery. Linebacker Jason Ayers had half a dozen tackles, three assists and a pair of sacks. Defensive back Peyton Woodall caused a fumble and blocked a punt, his second of the season.
Crist was 11-of-19 for 140 yards, and an interception. Miller was the leading rusher with 68 yards on seven carries. Stewart had 90 receiving yards on three receptions.