Heritage Academy sophomore quarterback Carter Putt was 23-for-33 for 386 yards and six touchdowns Friday in a 42-38 victory against Pillow Academy. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
September 19, 2017 10:01:00 AM
Carter Putt doesn't need ice when his arm is feeling good.
As a pitcher with the Heritage Academy baseball team, Putt said he didn't use ice for his shoulder or his elbow following his outings.
Putt followed a similar approach Friday after a career night in his fifth start as the varsity quarterback of the school's football team.
Putt was 23-for-33 for 386 yards and six touchdowns to help Heritage Academy rally from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit and earn a 42-38 victory against Pillow Academy in Greenwood.
For his efforts, Putt is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"My arm was feeling pretty good," Putt said. "That is what I live for, throwing it."
Putt credited his team's defense for raising its level late in the game to give the ball back to the offense multiple times so it could finish the comeback. He said he felt comfortable early in the game and was able to stay consistent on a night when the Patriots weren't able to get a running game going.
"I saw we were going to have to get air it out a little more and get it out to our playmakers in space and let them make moves," Putt said. "I knew it was going to be coming, and I enjoyed throwing it around.
"Everybody knew we were throwing it, and some of them were coming up to me and saying, 'Look at this. Whenever I am running the backside route I am getting open,' so I was looking for my open receivers and trying to get them the ball so they could make plays."
Heritage Academy coach Sean Harrison has praised the maturity and decision-making of Putt through the first two months of the season. Putt's total passing yards Friday night was more than his last three games combined. It came after Pillow Academy stymied Heritage Academy's running attack and built a 17-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining.
Putt knew the Patriots didn't have time to run the ball if they wanted to rally, so he knew the team was going to need him to lead the charge. Heritage Academy moved senior tailback Dontae Gray to an outside receiver and inserted sophomore Rocky Wright into the game at tailback. With Gray, Moak Griffin, Jared Long, Lex Rogers, and Dalton Alexander, the Patriots had plenty of options to occupy the defense's attention. Still, the question remained if Putt would be able to lead the charge back. Griffin, Long, and Gray had two touchdowns, while Rogers piled up the receiving yards on screen plays.
"He did a good job of throwing balls that his guy was going to catch or nobody was going to catch, and his receivers went and executed for him," Harrison said.
On Long's second touchdown, Putt had just the right amount of touch to drop the ball in over two defenders in the left corner of the end zone. Long went up high to snare the pass and then tumbled over.
On the clinching score, Putt's pass to the front right corner of the end zone appeared to be a little short as the routes of Gray and Alexander converged. But the pass had a little more air on it than the defender thought as it went right over his fingertips and into the arms of Gray.
"I was proud of him because he took some shots (prior to the final three scoring drives)," Harrison said. "They didn't quit. Our offensive line was as close to perfect as we have been on those last three drives."
Putt said it was "crazy" how the final scoring sequence played out. He said he saw Gray get behind the cornerback and thought he might have underthrown the ball 2 or 3 yards. Fortunately, the throw was better than he thought.
Harrison attributed Putt's ability to stay focused to his knack for not getting too high or too low. He said he saw that tendency last season when Putt quarterbacked the junior high team. Harrison also didn't have to tell Putt the Patriots couldn't dial up a 17-point play to dig themselves out of their hole with a snap of a finger.
"He does a good job of taking what they give to him," Harrison said. "He did a good job of hitting checkdowns. He threw it up when it needed to be thrown up and he checked it down. He knows what we want and we trust in him that he knows it."
Putt also knows that as much as he would love to throw the ball 33 times every game that Gray's ability to run the football is a key component of the offense. He smiled when he was asked if he has petitioned Harrison for more chances to throw the football. Putt said he hasn't done that, but he acknowledged his effort against Pillow Academy will give him confidence to know he can make plays when called on.
Harrison said Putt's performance shows the Patriots can have success if they opt to throw the ball more. With plenty of weapons on the outside, the run-pass dilemma could prove to be a nightmare scenario for opponents. That's a thought that pleases Harrison because it is another indication Putt continues to emerge as a quarterback and as a leader.
"I was hoping I could avoid those situations where it all got put on him, but I am glad it came in a non-district game early," Harrison said. "We didn't do anything we haven't done before. We just did a whole lot more of it. I am probably going to let him throw it a little more now. He has just been doing little things better and better."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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