The Forrest Rockets exercised a 23-year old jinx Thursday night at the "Rock", crushing the Moore County Raiders 46-10 on senior night and in the process earned the right to host the Marion County Warriors (6-4) in the first round of the TSSAA Class 2A playoffs Friday night in Chapel Hill.
Forrest (9-1,5-1) spotted the Raiders (4-6, 1-5) an early field goal before firing off 39 unanswered points for their first win over the Lynchburg school since 1983.
An elated Forrest head coach Kyle Stacey said after the contest, "It's been a long time. It's a huge win. I told the kids this week that they are playing more this game for a lot of ex-football players that have never beaten this bunch. It means a lot to those guys as well."
Seniors Levell Quezaire and Taylor Abrigo continued their stellar seasons, eclipsing the 1,000-yard marks for rushing yards and all-purpose yards respectfully.
Quezaire rushed for 96 yards in the ballgame, giving him 1077 yards on the season.
Quezaire's 15 rushing touchdowns led the Rockets this season.
Abrigo went over the 1,000-yard mark in all-purpose yards when he hauled in a Dane Leonard pass late in the third quarter.
Abrigo currently has 475 yards in pass receptions, 51 rushing yards, 384 yards in kickoff returns, and 101 yards in punt returns for a 1011 total.
Abrigo has 10 touchdowns on the season.
Forrest got off to an uncharacteristic slow start, going three and out on their first possession.
"We got started off a little rough," said Stacey. "They were doing some things defensively that we had to get worked out."
Moore County blocked the ensuing Richard Hardin punt and drove to the Forrest 12-yard line before being stopped by the Rocket defense.
The Raiders settled for a 22-yard field goal by JP Evans with 10:05 left in the first quarter.
FHS could not get anything going on offense on their second possession and had to punt again after three plays.
The Forrest defense came into the ballgame ranked in the top five in the state (8.4) in points allowed and showed their muscle once again, stoning the Raiders on three plays to force a punt.
On the first play of the next FHS drive, Quezaire took a handoff from Leonard and raced down the home sidelines 36 yards to the Moore County 32, going over the 1,000-yard barrier.
Quezaire carried the rock three more times from there to pay dirt; giving Forrest a lead they would never surrender.
Stacey praised the offensive line after the game, saying, "Our offensive line is getting better and better with each game. I feel we are working some things out up front on and off the field. We got some smart kids up there and I got a lot of confidence in them."
Angel Reyes boomed the ensuing kickoff deep where Casey Franklin made one of his patented special teams tackle at the MC 17-yard line.
On second and nine, Franklin came on a blitz, forcing Raider quarterback Nathan Matlock to throw early and wide where Rocket middle linebacker Lamar Quezaire was waiting to pick off the ball and return it to the Moore County 8-yard line.
Two plays later his twin brother Levell found the MC end zone, giving the Rockets a 13-3 lead at the 10:57 mark of the second stanza.
Angel Reyes missed the extra point, but made up for it when he drilled the kickoff into the MC end zone for a touchback.
MC running back Daniel McGee ran into a brick wall of Rockets on first down and on second down, Abrigo drilled Kohl Rogers after a short pass reception.
An incomplete pass on third and fifteen forced another Raider punt.
Forrest fumbled the punt at their own 48, giving Moore County great field position and a chance to get back into the ballgame.
The Raiders faced a fourth down and two at the Forrest 26 yard line when they called timeout with 5:50 to play in the first half.
Rogers took the handoff and tried to dive over the Rocket defensive line, but could not get an inch and Forrest took over on downs.
Forrest drove all the way down to the MC 12-yard line where Reyes booted his 5th field goal of the season from 22 yards out for a 16-3 lead with just 1:09 left in the half.
Moore County ran out the remaining time in the first half, as the Rockets were 30 minutes away from hosting their first playoff game since ?.
Moore County received the second half kickoff and went on a six-minute drive that was ruined when Hunter Lampley intercepted a Matlock pass and returned it to the Raider 42-yard line.
On second down, Leonard found Abrigo streaking over the middle and hit him in stride. Abrigo broke several tackles on his way to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown.
Reyes booted the extra point through the uprights, giving FHS a 23-3 lead with 8:42 left in the quarter.
Reyes blasted the kickoff into the end zone for another touchback.
On second down, Moore County fumbled and Patrick Warner recovered at the 22.
Two plays later, Quezaire rumbled in from 9 yards out for the score and Reyes added the extra point for a 30-3 Forrest lead.
Stacey began mass substitutions at this point, but it did not stop the Rocket defense from holding the Raiders to another three and out on their next touch.
A shanked punt gave the Rockets the ball at the Moore County 29-yard line.
On the next play by the Rockets, Leonard found Abrigo for an 11-yard gain, putting the senior over the 1,000-yard mark for all-purpose yards on the season.
On a fourth and one from the MC 9-yard line, Zach Ray raced into the end zone untouched for a 36-3 Rocket lead with 1:58 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Rocket defense stopped the Raiders again, taking over on downs.
Forrest's second team offense drove to the Raider 18-yard line where Reyes booted another field goal, giving the Rockets a 39-3 lead.
Moore County would finally get on the board again at the 1:30 mark of the final quarter when Rogers ran it in from 32 yards out.
With the score 39-10, Forrest ended the scoring when Ray burst 83 yards untouched for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the contest.
The Rockets finished with 357 total yards on offense in the game and held the Raiders to just 139, including just 11 in the passing game.
The first round playoff game with Marion County will start at 7pm Friday night in Chapel Hill.
Stacey said about the playoff game, "We have got to stay focused on what we do in and out of school. We will try to get better and work on the little things, but for the most part we will stick with what has worked."