NEWPORT NEWS ——In a game marked by strange occurrences, perhaps it was only fitting that Friday night's contest between Heritage and Menchville at Todd Stadium came down to the leg of a sophomore kicker.
Dillon Christopher made his mark on the contest with 7:14 left in the third quarter, booting a 45-yard field goal to give the Monarchs a late 9-6 lead en route to a 16-6 win.
"It's only his first year of football," Menchville coach John Byron said. "He's got a heck of a leg, that's for sure."
Clifton Richardson also added a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Monarchs (2-7, 2-6), a 7-yard romp that accentuated a 24-carry, 151-yard performance.
Jamar Bateman got the Hurricanes off to a roaring start, taking the opening kickoff 92 yards for the score, before Marcel Howard's PAT missed to give Heritage a 6-0 lead. The Monarchs responded on the ensuing possession, marching 70 yards on 11 plays before Jamel Boothe dove in from a yard out to tie the game at 6-6 with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
The rest of the half saw a paucity of offense, as the two teams combined for five punts, a lost fumble, a turnover on downs and an interception.
"Hey, at any time, anybody's capable of (running back a kickoff)," Byron said. "But we needed to do a better job on coverage and tackling."
The Hurricanes (0-9, 0-8) appeared to score as time expired in the first half, when a trick play resulted in a 47-yard touchdown. Richard Outlaw, the quarterback, took the snap and handed the ball off to Frank Brooks — who then handed it to Mario Pierce. Pierce then threw the ball downfield to Outlaw, who caught the ball and marched into the end zone with all zeroes on the clock.
Only Heritage was flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield. Outlaw was sacked on the following play to end the half.
The Hurricanes had another touchdown negated on a punt in the third quarter. After Marcel Howard punted the ball away, the ball appeared to bounce off a Menchville player and spill into the end zone, where Heritage recovered.
But officials ruled the ball was never touched before it crossed the plane — resulting in a touchback for Menchville instead of a touchdown for the Hurricanes.
Still, Menchville's defense held Heritage scoreless on the night, and the Hurricanes will try to avoid their first 0-10 season next weekend.
"We honestly didn't think about (possibly being Heritage's first win)," Byron said. "I just wanted us to come out today and play hard.
"Heritage played hard, too – it was a 6-6 game at the half, and they gave it their all out there."
MENCHVILLE 16, HERITAGE 6
Heritage;6;0;0;0 -- 6
Menchville;6;0;3;7 -- 16