By DAVID CLAYBOURN
Victory was in sight for the Greenville Lions after they pinned Frisco Heritage back on its 1-yard line with a 34-yard coffin-corner punt by Marquist Davis.
The score was tied 3-3 with 8:45 remaining and if the Lions could make another stop on defense and get the ball back they could drive in for the game-winning touchdown or field goal.
But Heritage quarterback Twayne Blackwell got the Coyotes out of the hole with a 22-yard strike on third down to a leaping Tyler Stuhan and then Blackwell broke the Lions’ hearts two plays later with a 74-yard touchdown run that gave Heritage a 10-3 victory in a thriller on Friday night at FC Dallas Stadium.
The Coyotes won their first game of the season to go 1-2 while the Lions suffered their 23rd straight loss to drop to 0-3 heading into a bye week.
Greenville battled Heritage to a 3-3 standoff in the first half.
A fake punt helped Heritage score the game’s first points in the first quarter. The Coyotes took the opening possession and picked up one first down on a keeper by Blackwell before facing a fourth and five from the Heritage 46. Daylan Dial, lined up at blocking back in punt formation, took the snap and raced 18 yards for the first down. The Coyotes got as close as the Lion 3-yard line before the Lion defense buckled down and forced Heritage to settle for Bryce Crawford’s 21-yard field goal with 6:15 left in the first quarter.
Greenville’s defense set up a scoring opportunity for the Lions later in the first period after stopping Blackwell short of a first down on a fourth-and-one sneak from the Coyote 33. But the Lions couldn’t cash in as the Coyotes stopped the Lions on fourth and six from the Heritage 26.
Heritage threatened to score again, driving inside the Lions’ 20 on the running of Blackwell and running back Sean Jones. But the Lion defense dug down again and forced Heritage to settle for a 37-yard field goal try by Crawford. Greenville’s Deairus Mitchell then dove in to block Crawford’s try as the Lions took over on their 30.
The Lions picked up first downs on runs of 31 yards by quarterback Marquist Davis and 15 by running back Jamar Clark. Kellen Cox then tied the game with a 31-yard field goal with 2:04 left in the half.
Heritage got as close as the Lion five on its first possession of the second half after Walter Miller broke for a 23-yard run and Jones dashed 19 yards. But the Coyotes lost 14 yards on an errant snap and Greenville’s defense contained Blackwell on a fourth-and-goal run from the Lion 24.
Greenville marched from its 20 to the Heritage 35 with keeps of 4, 12, 2, 7, 4 and 4 yards by Davis, plus a 7-yard run by Clark. But facing a fourth and five from the Heritage 35, the Lions called on the punt by Davis but Blackwell and the Coyotes produced a 99-yard touchdown drive for the game-winner.
Greenville tried to answer the Heritage touchdown but lost a fumble at the Coyote 44 on its next drive and then after Greenville’s defense forced a punt the Coyotes forced four straight Greenville incompletions from the 50 during the final 25 seconds.
Blackwell finished with 125 yards rushing on 14 carries while going 4-of-6 passing for 33 yards as Heritage outgained the Lions 310-166 in total yardage.
Davis rushed for 105 yards for the Lions on 17 carries and was 4-of-11 passing for 14 yards.