ROCKLEDGE – For most of the game, Josh Gaines beat Rockledge with his legs.
But when it mattered, the Heritage running back finished Rockledge off with his arm.
With his team clinging to a 14-10 lead late in the fourth quarter, Gaines took the pitch as a running back, stopped just short of the line of scrimmage and found receiver David Ribot in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass to seal Heritage’s 27-10 win over Rockledge on Friday night.
“That was one of those draw-it-up-in-the-dirt plays,” said Heritage head coach Mark Ainsley, who got his first win with the program. “Just a little backyard ball.”
Aided by four Heritage turnovers and countless penalties, Rockledge hung tough for three quarters, even taking a 10-7 lead early in the third on an Austin Parrish 29-yard touchdown run.
But that was short lived as Heritage only needed four plays to score on its next drive, which ended when Gaines found receiver Daeshawn Mills for a 15-yard touchdown. The score was setup by an 85-yard run by Gaines three plays earlier.
Rockledge, now winless on the season at 0-3, struggled to get anything going consistently on offense against a speedy Heritage defense, and managed only 64 yards of total offense.
• KEY PLAYERS: Gaines finished with a game-high 176 yards on 14 carries and also threw two touchdown passes, the firsts of his career. The junior accounted for 226 of the Panthers’ 336 yards of total offense.
• THEY SAID IT: “Penalties have been our achilles two games straight,” Ainsley said. “They’re drive killers. We had a lot of laundry on the field tonight. If we get that fixed, I think we’ll be all right.”
• WHAT’S NEXT: Heritage at Jensen Beach; Rockledge at Palm Bay
• RECORDS: Heritage 1-1 (0-0); Rockledge 0-3 (0-0).