Down a touchdown with two minutes and change left to play, Christian Heritage quarterback Trevor Brown wasn’t nervous, anxious or overly concerned.
He was just ready to win.
“I wasn’t worried about it at all,” Brown said. “I knew that as an offense, we could drive down, take it in and score like we did.”
Brown helped orchestrate the game-clinching drive against Mt. Zion-Carroll on Friday night, floating a 27-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nich Bartley with 40 seconds to play. Kicker Hunter Dixon added the extra point and the Lions’ defense intercepted Mt. Zion’s final desperation heave for a 28-27 win in the Sub-region 6A-A opener for both teams on Christian Heritage’s homecoming night.
Christian Heritage improved to 4-1 in its first season of GHSA competition, while Mt. Zion suffered its third loss in four games to start the season, all by a touchdown or less.
“It was just a team win,” Christian Heritage coach Preston Poag said. “It’s just a big win for our program. We keep moving forward. We struggled on defense. They ran it down our throats. They had a good team, they have some good backs. They had a big line.”
Those good running backs and that strong offensive line ran up 306 yards on 47 carries, highlighted by Nate Bernhardt’s three touchdowns. His final score of the night punctuated an 11-play, 80-yard drive — all on the ground — that put Mt. Zion ahead 27-21 with 2:12 to play. However, placekicker Garrett Frazier missed the extra point
Christian Heritage had solid field position, taking over at its 41-yard line with 2:05 remaining. A 4-yard scramble by Brown and three straight completions put the Lions at Mt. Zion’s 17. After two incomplete passes and a holding penalty, Christian Heritage was backed up to its 27 facing third-and-20.
With 47 seconds on the clock, Brown took the snap. Bartley broke free of his defender and streaked down the sideline. Brown spotted his receiver and lobbed the pass for touchdown.
Tie game, 27-27.
Dixon calmly put the Lions up for good.
“It’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Bartley, who finished with seven catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. “Scoring that last touchdown was amazing. I couldn’t do it without everybody on the team. It was a team effort.”
Bartley said he had been running the route he followed for the game-tying touchdown catch all night
“I felt like I could get open,” Bartley said. “We called timeout and I told coach Poag, ‘Let’s run the out and up. I think I can get it.’ He called it and it worked perfect.”
Mt. Zion coach Keith Holloway, who is in his first season leading the Eagles, was disappointed with the defeat but still proud of his team’s effort. Last year, Mt. Zion was winless.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Holloway said. “We’ve been in every game we’ve played this year. We’re just one play away from turning the corner.”
Mt. Zion opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 69-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown run by Takarius Tuggle. Christian Heritage responded with two first-quarter touchdowns, a 5-yard pass from Brown to Bartley and a 38-yard run by Austin Long.
A Bernhardt 4-yard touchdown run sent the game to halftime tied at 14.
Christian Heritage 28, Mt. Zion-Carrollton
Mt. Zion 7 7 0 13 — 27
Christian Heritage 14 0 0 14 — 28
How They Scored
MZ — Takarius Tuggle 27 run, Garrett Frazier kick (10:26)
CH — Trevor Brown 5 pass to Nich Bartley, Hunter Dixon kick (6:29)
CH — Austin Long 38 run, Dixon kick (1)
MZ — Nate Bernhardt 4 run, Frazier kick (3:19)
MZ — Nate Bernhardt 4 run, Frazier kick (9:33)
CH — Brown 25 pass to Michael McKinney, Dixon kick (7:37)
MZ — Nate Bernhardt 2 run, kick failed (2:12)
CH — Brown 27 pass to Bartley, Dixon kick (:40)