Forrest beats White House-Heritage for third straight win
In the end, it was the defense that made the difference for the Forrest Rockets, who moved to 3-1 on the season with a 23-18 coast-to-coast Homecoming win over White House-Heritage at the "Rock" in Chapel Hill.
"We overcame a lot tonight," said Forrest head coach Kyle Stacey. "Our kids hung together, they bent a little bit, but they never broke."
The Rockets scored all twenty-three of their points in the first half and then held off the Patriots with several key defense stops in the second half, most notably one huge stop at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the momentum seemed to going the visitors' way.
"That was big," said Stacey. "I thought that was a momentum changer. If they would have scored there, they would have had time to come back and score again, but we have talked about momentum changes and we got a big change there."
Late in the third quarter, the Patriots were coming off a big scoring drive that cut the Forrest lead to 23-12, and two plays after the White House-Heritage (WHH) touchdown, the Rockets fumbled the ball away, deep in their territory at the 25-yard line.
The Patriots took turns giving the ball to Joseph Walker and Chris Howard as they pounded their way to the shadow of the Rockets' endzone, facing a fourth down at the six before calling timeout with 11:16 to play in the contest.
Once again, the Patriots went to their horse in Walker, who was stuffed for no gain by a host of Rocket defenders, giving the ball back to the home team.
Forrest would do a good job of burning some time off the game clock on the ensuing nine-play drive that moved the ball to the WHH 46-yard line and ate up four minutes.
Angel Reyes' punt that bounded down to the sixteen would make it even tougher on the Patriots.
After a four-yard gain on first down, Rocket defensive lineman Zach Osborne made the play of the game when he busted through the Patriot's offensive line and sacked quarterback Christian Reid for an eleven-yard loss at the six.
Osborne said after the game, "Coach set up a play where they would have to choose between me and (Brandon) Beech and they choose Beech over me and everything opened up just right. All I was thinking was just hit him. We know how to hold strong, pick each other up and we work as a unit."
Reid was chased to the sidelines on the next play and tossed the ball in desperation, sending a yellow hankie to the ground for an intentional grounding call that forced a Patriot punt with five and a half minutes to play.
The ensuing Forrest drive was weird, but effective as they burned all but 36.8 seconds off the game clock.
The Rockets had several big plays that would have put the game away in the drive, including a Brooks Lamb touchdown, but incredibly, they were flagged for five holding calls that kept WHH alive.
The Rockets gave up the ball to the Patriots on downs at the WHH 29-yard line with 36.8 left in the contest and on the next play, Reid found Walker for a 71-yard touchdown.
Once again, the Rockets' defense held, stopping Walker on the two-point try that would have cut the lead to just a field goal with 24.3 seconds remaining in the contest.
The Rockets recovered the onsides kick, ending the game.
Forrest scored on the game's first offensive series, mounting an eight-play drive that was capped off by a Lamb touchdown run from the three-yard line on a fourth down snap.
"That first drive was huge," said Stacey. "We had worked hard all week on doing some different things like getting the ball to Daughrity a little bit more and to spread it more, getting it to Beech, and I think all of them did a good job tonight."
Lamb would have a big night, rushing for 58 yards on 15 attempts, scoring two touchdowns, and going 6-10 for 110 yards and no interceptions in the aerial attack.
The Patriots also scored the first time they touched the ball on two Walker runs.
The WHH senior ran for seven yards to the twenty-seven on a first down play before taking it to the house from 75-yards out.
The extra point hit the cross bar and bounced out in what would be a crucial miss down the road.
The first quarter ended with FHS leading by one point 7-6 and they got the ball two plays into the second quarter after forcing a Patriot punt.
Five plays later, Lamb scored from the one and Reyes kicked the extra point, making 14-6.
The key play in the drive that started at the WHH 47-yard line was a Lamb 32-yard pass to Jacob Daughrity at the 15-yard line.
Lucas Pruitt stuffed Walker on a fourth down play at midfield, stopping the Patriots' next drive and the Rockets would capitalize as they scored seven plays later on a Zach Ray one-yard plunge with 4:19 remaining in the first half.
Another big pass play, this time Lamb to Ray for a 39-yard pass and catch was the highlight of the scoring drive.
Ray also had a huge night, rushing for 177 yards on 27 carries with the one catch from Lamb and one TD.
Forrest forced another Patriot punt with 1:56 left on the first half clock and kept on the offensive that would be rewarded when Reyes drilled a 31-yard field goal with 13.5 second left before halftime.
The only third quarter score was five-yard TD run by Patriot halfback Dallas Jackson that made it 23-12 after WHH fumbled the extra point snap.
Walker would finish with 147 yards on 18 carries for the Patriots (2-2, 1-0), who travel to Jo Byrns (2-2, 1-0) next week, while Forrest (3-1, 1-0) gets to enjoy their bye week before going to Cornersville (0-3, 0-1) on Sept. 23.
"The only thing better would be 4-0, these kids have played extremely well all year and hopefully we can peak at the right time," said Stacey.
And Cornersville, "It will be a tough game. Regardless of what the records are, that will be a county rivalry and a grudge match, and I know coach Stocstill will have his kids ready. We have to have a good week of practice, play good fundamental football, and not beat ourselves."