- Mercedes Mayer, ESPNDallas.com
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BEDFORD -- Colleyville Heritage coach Mike Fuller felt like his team was a jigsaw puzzle with several moving parts Friday night against L.D. Bell, especially on offense.
With a few different pieces and last-minute finds, it all ended up fitting together for the Panthers in a 21-10 win over the Blue Raiders in a key District 5-5A game at Pennington Field. Thanks in part to a stifling defense.
Heritage (5-2, 3-1 in District 5-5A) was already without starting wide receiver Jake Skinner for the game, then Jake McKelvey, who moved into Skinner's spot, suffered a slight injury in the game. And, after combining for 67 rushing and receiving yards - including a 5-yard touchdown run - in the first half, running back Bailey Crego had only 19 rushing yards in the second half after being limited by an injury.
The defense rose to the occasion time after time after time.
”-- Colleyville Heritage head coach Mike Fuller
Still, Heritage's left-handed quarterback Jeff Calvert completed 22 of 33 passes for 271 yards, with two interceptions and two touchdowns, to eight different receivers. And the Panthers' defense held Bell (3-4, 2-2) to just 117 total yards.
"Guys that aren't normally out there as much came in and stepped up and did a good job," Fuller said. "[The defense] rose to the occasion time after time after time."
Fuller said his team talked about this game being the biggest of the season coming in because Heritage and Bell were tied at 2-1 in the district standings before the game.
And the Panthers started off like they were on a mission.
Calvert connected with Kyle Millan for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the Panthers' second drive of the game, and Heritage's defense stuffed Bell quarterback Mitchell Dominiec for a 4-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line with just more than a minute left in the first quarter.
Crego scored on a 5-yard run with 3:18 to go in the half for Heritage to cap off a 9-play drive that was keyed by McKelvey's 33-yard diving catch on fourth-and-four. McKelvey drug the tips of his toes inbounds to complete the play and continue the drive that gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead at halftime.
After Heritage fumbled its first possession of the second half, Dominiec threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Epeli Fiefia on the first play of the ensuing drive to bring Bell within a touchdown, 14-7.
Then those puzzle pieces started falling back into place for Heritage.
The Panthers' defense held Bell to minus-22 yards after the Blue Raiders kicked a field goal to make it 14-10 with 2:18 left in the third (all 10 of Bell's points were off Heritage turnovers). And Heritage's offense kicked it back into high gear when, late in the fourth quarter, Calvert went 3-for-3 on a drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Calvert to Josh Meador. The 10-yard completion was made even after Calvert took a big hit to the chest.
"He's a very tough kid, a good competitor," Fuller said. "You never question his heart."
Colleyville Heritage's defense stymies L.D. Bell