On a fourth-and-goal in overtime with the game on the line, Hermitage quarterback Jaylen Burton barbecued the Patrick Henry defense all the way to Buffalo Wild Wings, his kicker’s favorite restaurant.
“I told him we gonna go to B-Dubs tonight,” Burton said of his encouragement to his kicker, Braden Meginity, after Burton’s 6-yard touchdown scamper set up Meginity’s game-winning extra point to give No. 9 Hermitage a 27-26 victory over No. 5 Patrick Henry Friday night.
Minutes earlier, Meginity missed a game-winning field goal as regulation expired.
“It was a lot of pressure, but they just teach you if you miss the kick, forget it. If you make mistakes, gotta pick your head up,” Meginity said after his team mobbed him at midfield.
“There’s always going to be another kick in front of you.”
Burton was getting barbecue wings, and Meginity said he’d down 20 mild.
“I will never lose trust in my brothers,” Burton said of what went through his head as he shimmied and shaked his way to the end zone.
The path traveled to Burton and Meginity’s heroics was a winding, disjointed one full of momentum swings and a whopping 22 penalties. A crowd of 1,000-plus filled Hermitage’s historic Chester E. Fritz Stadium, and the Panthers entered to a roaring ovation for their first game of the season after three consecutive postponements.
The game was agreed upon between the two schools earlier in the week after both of their opponents postponed the originally scheduled contests. It also was the first game for new Panthers coach Timothy Jean-Pierre, who played at Hermitage in the early 2000s.
Hermitage jumped to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game when Brailen Jones blocked a Patriots punt and wrestled the ball from a scrum to take it back 31 yards to the end zone.
But Patrick Henry (1-1) controlled the flow of the game for much of the first half behind freshman phenom Dashawn Green, a shifty running back with explosive speed. He carried 30 times for 225 yards and three touchdowns.
Green had a 38-yard score in the second quarter, and PH quarterback Jordan Allen added a 4-yard TD run to give the Patriots a 12-7 lead late in the second quarter.
But Burton engineered an 11-play scoring drive in the final minutes of the half, with lots of help from his primary target, receiver Jhakiri Bolden (7 catches, 96 yards). That drive ended in a 12-yard TD pass from Burton to running back Jeremiah Coney, and the Panthers took a 13-12 lead into the break.
That score held until early in the fourth quarter, when Burton showed off his escapability on a vital third-and-13 at the PH 43. A great thrower on the run, Burton eluded defenders to fire a pretty 40-yard bomb to Bolden. Coney plunged in from 3 yards out to make it 20-12.
But just five plays later, Green got loose off right tackle and ran 45 yards untouched to the house. Allen found Jayden Mines just over the left pylon for the 2-point conversion to knot things at 20-all.
Behind Coney and Burton, Hermitage marched 79 yards in 12 plays as the clock wound down, setting up a field goal to win it from the 14-yard line.
As the kick sailed wide left, the Patriots sideline exploded, and Panther heads sank into hands in the stands and all over the field.
But Burton rallied the troops, Meginity picked himself up, and the Panthers claimed the win.
Patrick Henry 0 12 0 8 6 — 26
Hermitage 7 6 0 7 7 — 27
Herm — Jones 31 punt block return (Meginity kick)
PH — Allen 4 run (kick failed)
PH — Green 38 run (run failed)
Herm — Coney 12 pass from Burton (kick failed)
Herm — Coney 3 run (Meginity kick)
PH — Green 45 run (Mines pass from Allen)
PH — Green 3 run (run failed)
Herm — Burton 6 run (Meginity kick)
RUSHING: Herm — Coney 18-62; Burton 6-43; Bolden 1-1; PH — Green 30-225; Williams 4-13; Allen 6-39.
PASSING: Herm — Burton 16-25-164-2; PH — Allen 3-10-57-1.
RECEIVING: Herm — Rivers 2-15; Gunnell 3-21; Bolden 7-96; Meyers 2-15; Coney 1-12; Flippin 1-23; PH — Mines 1-38; Berry 2-19.