HEWITT — The second time at Midway High School’s Panther Stadium was just as productive for Heritage High School as the first time. And for the Jaguars in the third round, the fourth time was the charm.
Cade Sumbler passed for four touchdowns and a stingy Jaguars defense did the rest as they blanked Palestine, 28-0, on a foggy Friday afternoon in the Class 4A Division I region semifinals.
Having reached the region semifinal round for each of the previous three years before exiting the playoffs each time, the Jags (9-4) finally move on to face Carthage in the Region III championship game, which will be this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tomato Bowl in Jacksonville.
It’ll be a rematch of last year’s third-round meeting, in which Carthage won in overtime, 50-49.
Sumbler completed 13 of 20 pass attempts for 195 yards, finding Jay Wilkerson twice and Haydon Wiginton and Cullen Stone once each for scores. Wilkerson finished with nine catches for 124 yards, and Latray Miller had a dozen carries for 77 yards.
Defensively, the Jags crowded the box and held a one-dimensional Palestine offense to 150 total yards and seven first downs, taking away a fumble and an interception as well. The Wildcats (7-6) didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter and only got as close as the HHS 23-yard line late in the game.
The Jags notched the second shutout playoff victory in school history and also the second whitewash overall. The first time was a 55-0 rout of Lake Worth in the 2016 bi-district round, which was also the school’s playoff debut.
Palestine’s Jeremiah Davis carried 24 times for 126 yards.
After forcing Palestine to punt, the Jags put together an 80-yard drive that almost resulted in points, but the Wildcats made a goal-line stand and stacked up Miller at the 1-yard line on fourth down. But five plays later, the Jag defense forced a fumble, and on the first offensive play Sumbler passed to Wilkerson for a 37-yard strike, and HHS took the lead, 7-0.
Three runs by Palestine’s Davis went nowhere and the Wildcats punted again. This time, it took Heritage two plays, as Sumbler hit Stone for a 47-yard play at the end of the first quarter to make it 14-0.
After a scoreless second period, HHS opened the second half with the ball and made the most of it, getting a short field as Palestine tried an unsuccessful onside kick. Six plays later, Sumbler tossed to Wiginton for the score, and it became a three-touchdown margin with 9:01 remaining in the third.
Heritage wrapped up the scoring with 10:01 left in the game when Sumbler and Wilkerson connected once again, this time from 20 yards away.
Last week, the Jags played at Panther Stadium for the first time and beat Navasota, 26-14.