Boys Varsity Football · Highlanders Hold off Harrison With Fast Start

Article and photos courtesy of  Hometown life
By Marty Budner

Rochester Adams and Farmington Harrison have had some amazing battles over the years. Friday’s game — the last one they will ever play — was one of the best.

The visiting Highlanders scored 17 first half points, only to watch the Hawks catch up in the second half with 17 unanswered points to tie the game with 3:31 left in the fourth quarter.   Adams then took over at its own 20-yard line and drove 80 yards on 12 plays to earn a dramatic 24-17 victory. Highlander quarterback Carter Farris hit senior Jack Bishop with the winning touchdown pass from six-yards out to win the game. Bishop made a spectacular one-handed catch while falling to the ground.

The teams entered the game having evenly split the 16 previous times they’ve played. The record will show that Adams and veteran head coach Tony Patritto will forever hold a 9-8 series edge over Harrison and the state’s winningest head coach John Herrington.

Harrison is closing its door following this school year and Patritto will miss the rivalry.

“This was everything for us. This was almost sad, to be honest with you,” said Patritto, whose team is 4-3 overall and still alive in the playoff hunt. “The games we’ve had with this program over the last 15 years are games I will never, ever forget.  “I absolutely love Coach Herrington and all he’s done for high school football, and especially how he’s embraced me since I’ve been in the league,” he said. “We wanted to give him a good game, win, lose or draw. And I think we did. We’ve had some big ones, and I’m pretty happy with this one. It was special.”

The first half

Adams dominated the first half.  The Highlanders went 51 yards on three plays on their first possession of the game, capping the drive with a 15-yard TD run by Farris.

On their very next possession, Adams drove 85 yards on 17 plays, finally scoring on a 3-yard run by junior slot back Anthony Patritto on the first play of the second quarter.

The Highlanders then got a break with seconds left before halftime. Adams forced a Harrison punt and got the ball near midfield. The Highlanders eventually drove to the Hawks 27-yard line. Then, senior kicker Ben Patton booted a 44-yard field goal as time expired to give Adams a 17-0 halftime lead.

“When we started the game we told the kids that it’s very tough to stop them in the first half until you get used to the speed because you can’t simulate it,” said Herrington, whose team is now 5-2 overall. “And then we got a punt that only went to the 5-yard line and they were able to score another one.

“Then we settled in and played real well after that. But, we had trouble running the ball early and we ran a little bit better later. And the quarterback settled in and had a couple passes.  “In the second half I was pleased, but the games are played in two halves,” he said. “But, (Adams is) good and they have some of the best coaches in the league, if not the best coaches. We just hung in there.”

The second half

Harrison, with new quarterback Keel Watson playing his first game as a Hawk after transferring in, dominated the second half.  The Hawks scored on their first possession of the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Rod Heard, who finished the game with 88 yards on 27 carries to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. Harrison now trailed, 17-7.

Harrison forced a three-and-out and took over at its own 19-yard line. The Hawks then drove 81 yards on 15 plays, finding the end zone on Heard’s 3-yard run. Harrison now trailed, 17-14.

The Hawks completed their amazing comeback when senior kicker David Hiser connected on a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-all.  However, Adams regained the ball and ultimately drove in for the winning touchdown as Farris completed his last five passes of the game, including the highlight-reel catch by Bishop.

“We couldn’t make a first down in the second half, but when we had to down the stretch we were able to do it,” said Patritto. “(Farris) ran his butt off in the first half and we asked him to throw down the stretch there and this was a big night for him in terms of his progression as a quarterback.

“Fortunately, our kids had the guts to answer them in the last three minutes,” said Patritto.