Rocket stampede crushes Champions
There may be many fine walking horses in town for the big celebration in Bedford County this weekend, but there was a loose stallion in Chapel Hill Friday running wild on the gridiron at the 'Rock'.
Forrest junior tailback Zach Ray broke out of the corral early, galloping with a fervor rarely seen in these parts.
Forrest head coach Kyle Stacey said about Ray's outstanding performance, "He carried the ball well, he is our feature back. We are counting on him to do a lot. He kept going ahead, going ahead, and going ahead. The line did a good job of handling the situations up front. I remember certain plays where the line put some shutdown on some people."
Ray was unstoppable, rambling for 281 yards on 36 rushing attempts and scored four touchdowns to lead the Rockets to a 45-21 win over fifth ranked Cascade (1-2).
The quiet Ray said after the game, "It feels great and the line blocked really well, so did the receivers. There were a few great blocks by the receivers, especially on that sweep where Mikey Herron had to block one big man and he did it. There were holes everywhere and I could have picked any one of them to run through."
The number ten ranked Rockets (3-0) never trailed in the game.
"There is still a lot of work left to do," said Ray.
In front of a huge throng, Forrest won the coin toss and elected to receive.
Starting at their own 28-yard line, Forrest drove the ball down the field, smash mouth style to the Cascade 35-yard line where Angel Reyes drilled a forty-five yard field goal to put his squad up 3-0 with 7:03 left in the first quarter.
Reyes proceeded to drill the ensuing kickoff into the Cascade end zone for a touchback.
The Rocket defense, spurred on by the early score, held firm and forced a Cascade punt.
Cascade held too, forcing a punt, but made a crucial mistake when they had too many players on the field for the return.
The penalty gave Forrest a first down, but they could not convert and had to punt the ball back to the Champions three plays later.
Forrest punter Richard Hardin booted a perfect angle punt that was covered by Taylor Schoenberger at the three-yard line.
Cascade began to move the ball, primarily through the air as junior quarterback Jared Carcuff got hot, taking the Champs into the second quarter on a high note.
Carcuff hooked up with Shawn Watson on a 31-yard pass and catch to the Forrest thirty on the first play of the second quarter, but two downs later Jonathan Anderson came up with a huge defensive play, sacking Carcuff for a ten yard loss.
Cascade was forced to punt and the kick went into the Forrest end zone for touchback.
Ray pounded for one yard on first down and then broke out of the corral on second down for a 24-yard scamper up to the forty-five.
Josh Allen went for a short gain, but a late hit on the play against Cascade gave Forrest a first down at the Champion thirty-eight.
Four plays later, Ray cruised through the heart of the Cascade defense for a 14-yard touchdown run.
Reyes added the extra point, giving the Rockets a 10-0 lead with 6:18 left in the first half.
Cascade was in trouble and they responded with a nine-play, eighty-yard drive that was capped off with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Carcuff to Watson.
Carcuff added the extra point, cutting the Forrest lead to 10-7 with 2:51 remaining in the half.
The Rockets were unfazed as Zach Horvath re-charged his mates with a stellar kick-off return to the Cascade forty-eight.
Ray ran for consecutive gallops of 7, 9, and 5 yards before Dane Leonard lofted a pretty pass to Allen over the middle for a 26-yard score.
Reyes' kick was true and the Rockets re-opened the ten-point margin at 17-7.
Brooks Lamb clobbered Derek Brewer on the kickoff return at the Cascade 12-yard line.
Carcuff found Watson free once again for a gain up to the Forrest 32-yard line before the Rocket defense stiffened with some heavy pressure on the quarterback and the Champs were forced to punt.
Leonard took a knee to end the first half.
The Champions got the ball to begin half number two and drove the ball to the 49-yard line where Carcuff found Watson wide open up the Forrest sideline for another touchdown.
After the extra point, the lead was back to three at 17-14.
Horvath took the kickoff to the FHS 32-yard line and Ray busted five more runs down to the Cascade 32-yard line.
Leonard dropped back to pass and sailed the ball down the Forrest sideline where senior Jake Burkett made a spectacular diving catch at the six.
Two plays later, Ray busted to pay dirt for the touchdown.
Reyes added another extra point, making it 24-14.
Once again, Cascade put together another drive via the air and scored on just five plays with the touchdown coming on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Carcuff to Christian Edmondson.
The extra point made it 24-21.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Rockets the ball at the 35.
Ray went for four yards on first down and then on second down he made the play of the game when it looked like he was hemmed in in the Cascade backfield.
Ray juked inside before making a brilliant cutback move to the sideline where he easily outran the Cascade defense all the way to the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown.
Reyes booted the extra point and booted a laser for a touchback on the kickoff, forcing Cascade to start at their own twenty-yard line.
Forrest defensive coordinator Brian Coleman had seen enough of Watson running free and put linebacker Schoenberger up to the line of scrimmage on man-to-man bump and run on the lanky receiver and it worked, as he could not get a clean release.
Coleman said after the game, "We had to bump him (Watson) off the line of scrimmage and put coverage over top of him. The offenses put it on tonight, we were just trying to hang on and not give up big plays. They did an excellent job, played hard, and I am proud of them. This is a great group of kids. They worked hard all week and motivated themselves."
Carcuff had to look elsewhere and there was nobody open as the defensive vice began to close on the Champs who were forced to punt on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Rockets had a chance to put the dagger in, but went three and out.
Cascade had chance to close the gap, but didn't when they were forced to punt.
The Rockets got the ball with 8:51 left in the game, but could not move very far and were forced to punt again on a third and six.
Cascade jumped the count and was called for off sides, giving Forrest a fourth and one and Stacey decided to go for the dagger play, giving the ball to his workhorse and Ray came through with the first down run to the 26-yard line.
On the next play, the dagger was deep and twisted as Allen scampered untouched up the middle for touchdown, igniting the huge crowd like never before.
Cascade was severely wounded and lost their cool and the ballgame when they were whistled for a double unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a pass interference call on the Rockets with under three minutes to go.
After the penalty, Cascade went into give up mode and the ballgame was over.
It was the Rockets' first win versus the Champions since 2005 and just their second in the last ten match-ups between the two schools.
"The monkeys off and I feel a whole lot better," said Stacey. "I am just proud for these kids, they have worked hard all week and they deserve it. We had a game plan, implemented that game plan, and did well with it. This is a sweet victory."
Forrest has a bye week and will return to action on September 17 at Eagleville.