Patriots fend off Raiders in back-and-forth battle

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Heritage Hills’ Kyndell Carter rushes for yards in the second half of the Patriots’ game against Southridge on Friday in Huntingburg. The Patriots defeated the Raiders 24-17 to remain a perfect 7-0 on the season as they search for their first undefeated regular season since 2007. For more photos from the game, click here.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Cole Sigler knows that in the game of football, not every play is going to go your way.

There will be difficult drives, plays that backfire and every once in awhile you may even give up a score or turn the ball over.

But the sweetest feeling? Overcoming all of the negatives to come away with the biggest positive — a victory to keep the hopes of an undefeated season rolling along.

“There was a lot of ups-and-downs, back-and-forths but we just hung in there and got it done in the end,” said the junior quarterback, who finished with 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Class 3A No. 4 Heritage Hills' 24-17 victory over Class 2A No. 6 Southridge in Huntingburg. “We know it’s not always going to be pretty, but just the way we were able to gut it out and get the W was huge.”

Sigler wasn’t exaggerating when he says the battle between the Pocket Athletic Conference foes and county neighbors had a lot of ups-and-downs and back-and-forths. Neither team was ever able to gain much of an advantage, as the largest lead either team was able to build up was 10 points.

The two biggest drives of the game came in the fourth quarter. After Southridge kicker Jeovany Dubon knocked in a 33-yard field goal to tie things up at 17-17, Heritage Hills (7-0, 5-0) knew they needed to put together a long, fruitful drive that would end in points.

“We looked at the clock and saw we had 10 minutes left and said ‘Here it is boys, this is our time,” Sigler said.

The Patriots converted a 4th-and-1 and four third downs on the final drive with the final one being a dagger — Sigler scrambled to the outside and found the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Patriots up 24-17. The drive ate up over seven minutes of clock.

But the Raiders (5-2, 4-1) weren’t going to go down without a fight. Southridge quarterback Colson Montgomery marched his team down the field by firing off several completions to Camden Gasser, Joe LaGrange and Garrett Voegerl. After a few incompletions, the Raiders found themselves with 4th-and-1 at the Heritage Hills 16 but Cole Calvert converted on a six-yard rush to put the Raiders in prime position to tie the game.

However, the Heritage Hills defense held steady and forced four straight Southridge incompletions and the goal-line stand meant one thing — the Patriots bid for their first undefeated regular season since 2007.

“Fourth quarter, down to the last minute — we all knew we just had to come together,” said Carter. “We all had each others backs and we just did our jobs and got it done — it was great.”

Heritage Hills head coach Todd Wilkerson added, “I’m proud of our team gutting through and making the plays when they needed to do. To be able to hold them at first and goal on about the 11 was huge.”

The game started as a major defensive battle with neither team reaching the endzone in the first quarter. However, the Patriots struck first near the beginning of the second quarter on a drive that appeared was going to be a turnover on downs but a personal foul call gave the Pats a first down.

Just three plays after the penalty, Sigler found his way into the endzone for a 10-yard rushing touchdown to put Heritage Hills ahead 7-0.

After Carson Leibering’s 24-yard field goal put the Patriots up 10-0 with 4:48 left in the second quarter, the Raiders knew they had to make some plays before halftime to get back into the thick of things.

With just 28 seconds left until halftime, Montgomery found Voegerl in the corner of the endzone for a three-yard touchdown to pull Southridge within three points at the break.

Southridge head coach Scott Buening, right, congratulates Garrett Voegerl after Voegerl scored a touchdown in the first half of the Friday evening game against Heritage Hills in Huntingburg. Voegerl finished with six receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Heritage Hills. For more photos from the game, click here.

It didn’t take long for Heritage Hills to put their lead back at double digits as shortly after the third quarter started, Sigler once again cut around the Raider defense for a 29-yard rushing touchdown to make it 17-7 Patriots.

“Sometimes our coaches say that players just make plays,” Sigler said. “But I give all the credit to my line. They were the ones who got the push, I just read the blocks and tried to do the best I could from there.”

Southridge’s other touchdown came with 5:27 left in the third quarter as Montgomery once again found Voegerl for a 17-yard leaping touchdown in the right corner of the endzone as the long jump state qualifier was able out jump Sigler for the TD grab.

A big positive for Southridge head coach Scott Buening and his Raiders was the passing game. Montgomery was only 12-of-29 but he did throw for 180 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Voegerl, who missed the first few games of the season due to injury, had a huge game with the two touchdown grabs as well as an incredible catch near the sideline in the third quarter that kept a drive alive.

“It was really nice to see our passing game in rhythm tonight,” Buening said. “I think when Garrett (Voegerl) had that play in the corner where he just kind of jumped up and got that ball, it kind of sparked everyone and that needs to be a big part of our offense going forward.”

While Buening was disappointed with the final outcome for the Raiders, he was happy with the effort his team showed and thinks that will only help going forward.

“It was a heck of a football game, I think that’s the best way to sum it up,” Buening said. “I hate losing and I hate the fact we couldn’t find a way to make one more play there at the end but both teams just played their tails off in a physical, hard-hitting game.”

For the Patriots, the momentum is truly building up after two big conference victories over Gibson Southern and Southridge with the conference title nearly firmly in their grasp.

The Patriots are just hoping that they can continue to overcome the bad moments they have in games and keep working to accomplish all their goals.

“We just have to continue to get better every week,” Sigler said. “We’ll enjoy this one but we have to get ready to prepare for next week.”

Carter added: “Things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to, there’s going to be ups and downs in both sports and life. You just have to fight through it and if you fight through it then you’ll win — I felt like that’s what we did.”




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