The Forrest Rockets played old fashioned smash mouth football Friday night in Clarksville, escaping with a hard fought 28-21 victory, keeping them in the thick of the Region 5/A playoff chase.
Forrest amassed 466 yards on the ground on 46 carries, a testament to the great play by the offensive line.
Forrest fullback Tyler Klaren came up with some big runs in the first half to spark the running attack and said after the contest, "This feels great to finally come together and get a win. We won because of the offensive line. They were blocking great and the holes were huge."
The Rocket defense also came up huge, intercepting Cougar quarterback Heath Dyer five times.
Forrest was once again on the short side of the penalty column and has been for the last three-plus games, amazingly getting just three calls from the zebras in 13 quarters.
The score would have been much higher for the Rockets, but they had three touchdowns called back on penalties in the ballgame, two of those on questionable calls of illegal man downfield penalties.
Forrest opened up the game with a six-minute drive, taking the ball all the way to the Cougars' 30-yard line before being stopped on a fourth-down play.
The Rockets proceeded to stop Clarksville Academy on four plays and took over on their own 15. The visitors drove the rock all the way down the field with Klaren gaining 40 yards on the ground.
Colin Henson finished off the scoring drive on the first play of the second quarter, running the ball in from 11 yards out to get the Rockets on the board. Taylor Abrigo booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
On the next Cougar drive, the Rocket defense held for the second consecutive time, forcing another Cougar punt.
The Rockets fumbled the ball away on the ensuing possession inside Cougar territory.
Defense was the name of the game once again for the Rockets on the next Cougar possession, with the big play coming from Casey Franklin, who nailed Cougar running back Dylan Ragsdale for a five-yard loss on third down to force another punt.
Zach Ray broke loose for a 32-yard punt return up to the 45-yard line where the Rockets started their next drive.
Forrest drove the ball all the way to the three-yard line, but Levell Quezaire fumbled the ball going in for the touchdown and Clarksville recovered.
The Cougars took the ball to the 33-yard line, where Ethan Hobgood broke through on second down and hit Dyer, forcing a fluttering ball that Franklin caught, taking it to the house for the score and a 14-0 Forrest lead with 4:17 left in the half.
The Cougars put together their best drive of the half, driving the ball into Rocket territory until Kyle Griffy picked off Dyer with 1:14 left.
After just one play, Clarksville's Nathan Griffy returned the favor, intercepting a Henson pass with 0:34 left.
Dyer tossed his third interception of the half when linebacker Aidan Burt snatched up a deflection to end the Cougar threat.
The half ended with score 14-0, Rockets.
The Cougars came out of the break and drove the ball all the way to the Forrest five-yard line, but once again Dyer was picked off, this time by Abrigo at the two-yard line.
On the first play by the Rockets, Henson tossed to Quezaire, but the ball bounced away into the end zone where Ragsdale recovered for a touchdown.
Forrest went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and the Cougars took over inside Forrest territory at the 45-yard line.
On first down, Henson came up with another Rocket pick and Forrest drove to the 39-yard line where Henson found a wide open Abrigo streaking down the seam for a touchdown, but the play was called back and the drive stalled.
Forrest stopped the Cougars cold, forcing a punt to Ray, who took it 75 yards for a touchdown, but the score was called back on a holding penalty.
Quezaire made up for the zebra's call when he took a handoff at the 15-yard line and raced untouched into the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown and a 21-7 Forrest margin with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars were not done and they took only one minute and twenty-two seconds to come back to make it a 21-14 ballgame on a 13-yard Dyer scamper.
Forrest took the ball on the first drive of the fourth quarter all the way to the Cougar 31-yard line where Henson found Abrigo open again for the score, but the yellow hankie lay on the field, negating another Rocket touchdown.
The biggest defensive play of the game took place on the Cougars' next possession when Henson made a diving deflection on a fourth down pass play to snuff out the threat.
Forrest iced the game on the next possession when Henson raced 55 yards on a third-and-19 to the Cougar 5. Ray took it in and Forrest was home free, leading 28-14 with just 3:28 left.
The Cougars scored with 0:08 left in the contest and Henson recovered the ensuing on-sides kick to end the game.
The 28-21 win keeps the Rockets (5-3, 4-3) in a tie for fourth place with MTCS. Forrest host's the Community Vikings (1-7, 1-6) on Friday night in Chapel Hill.
It will be homecoming, senior night, and the 2008 State Champion Forrest Lady Rocket softball team will be presented with their championship rings at halftime.
"We respect Community," said FHS head coach Kyle Stacey. "They played us close last year and if you don't respect them, they will sneak up and beat you."
"Homecoming is a time for everyone to enjoy, but coaches always worry about that game. We have got to have this game. We are banged up. This is the worst year for injuries that I can remember. Our young people have to step up now."