September 16, 2012 12:59:55 AM
It's Miller time at Heritage Academy.
Senior running back Miller Puckett rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to lead the Heritage Academy football team to a 35-14 victory against Clarksdale Lee Academy.
The performance was especially satisfying for Puckett, a 5-foot-9, 170-pounder, who suffered a season-ending injury last year in a 5-5 season.
First-year coach Barrett Donahoe hopes Puckett's effort can set the stage for the Patriots (2-3, 1-1 division) to make a run at the postseason.
"We talked a lot to Miller during the week about our game plan," Donahoe said. "We told him how important it was for him to have a big game. We told him if he could find a hole, to turn on speed and go for it. Miller did a great job."
Quarterback Cade Lott and wide receiver Parker Dunaway also contributed to the offense. Dunaway had a 97-yard return in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 13-6 lead.
"We also talked a lot to Cade and Parker about making the big plays," Donahoe said. "They both did a great job. We had some guys making good blocks and opening up holes. Some of our receivers had some big blocks against Lee Academy. It was a good team effort."
The performance was a marked improvement from last week, when Heritage Academy committed six turnovers, four in the third quarter, in a 33-10 loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy. MRA capitalized on Heritage Academy's mistakes in the third quarter to score 17 unanswered point.
"We overemphasized the third quarter this week in practice," Donahoe said. "We made adjustments during practice. We practiced like it was a game. We were behind one point going into halftime. No one was panicking in the locker room. We felt we had a solid game plan. We made some adjustments and we had the best possible third quarter we could have had. But what really made the difference was we only turned the ball over one time. We also dominated the clock in the third quarter, and that was important."
Puckett and the Patriots won't have any time to celebrate Monday. Heritage Academy will begin preparations for a two-week road trip that will begin with Division 1 AAA giant Jackson Academy and continue with Magnolia Heights before it returns home for an Oct. 5 game against Oak Hill Academy.
Jackson Academy (5-0) may be one of the toughest teams in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, but Donahoe said the Patriots will treat it as just another road game.
"We're heading down to face the big dogs on Ridgewood Road in Jackson," Donahoe said. "We just have to be focused on the game and not the opponent. We know what we are up against. We just have to stay focused on getting into the playoffs, and the win (over Lee Academy) took us a long way with that goal. We just have to stay focused."
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