Cougars no match for focused Rockets
After losing at home to Eagleville in dramatic fashion last week, the Forrest Rockets were squarely backed up against the playoff wall, needing to sweep the remainder of their schedule to guarantee a spot in the post-season and head coach Kyle Stacey's crew took the first step in a 49-7 rout over MTCS in Murfreesboro Friday night.
"I wish they were all like this," said a smiling Stacey after the game. "We developed some depth tonight because of injuries and I hope that pays off in the long run because we have three huge games in a row coming up."
An early MTCS interception by Parker Richardson stopped the Rockets' first drive, but the Forrest defense needed just over a minute to get the ball back and from there, it was all Rockets as they scored 28 unanswered points to put the game away before halftime.
The Rockets were facing a third down and seven from the MTCS 44-yard line when quarterback Brooks Lamb made an early atonement for his interception on two plays, beginning with a keeper down to the 35-yard line for the first down and he followed the run with a touchdown toss to Tony Johnson on the next play.
Angel Reyes' extra point was true with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter and the Rockets would never trail.
The Forrest defense forced a three and out and it only took the Rockets seven plays to find the MTCS endzone for a second time.
Lamb and Zach Ray both had big runs on the drive, fullback Ritchie Smith lit the scoreboard again with a bull run from the one-yard line for the touchdown, and Reyes added the extra for a 14-0 FHS lead.
As the second quarter began, MTCS' offense was in trouble again after a Logan Wheeler stop in the backfield as they faced a third and long and with pressure coming up the middle again.
Paten Pruitt picked off Cougar quarterback Peyton Buckner's hurried pass and ran it back for an apparent touchdown, but the score was nullified on a block in the back penalty on the return.
The Rockets were awarded the ball at the MTCS 29-yard line, and on first down, Forrest was flagged again, this time for holding, making it second down and twenty from the 39-yard line.
No need to worry as Lamb took the snap and threw a dart to Jonathon Anderson in stride down the Forrest sideline for his second touchdown pass of the game.
Reyes' kick was good, making it 21-0 and the Rockets struck again on defense when Jacob Daughrity stepped in front of a Cougar pass and scored from 76-yards out on the interception return to make it a four-score ballgame.
Near the end of the first half, trickery was all the Cougars had left in their offensive arsenal and it worked once on a reverse option pass from Justin Winn to Parker Richardson that covered 50 yards.
After an MTCS timeout with 2:15 remaining in the half, the home squad got a break on a pass interference call that put the ball on the Forrest 10-yard line where Stephen Brent ran in the Cougars' (0-7, 0-4) lone score of the evening.
The jubilation was short-lived as Lamb rambled 59-yards all the way into the MTCS end zone on an option play on first down.
Reyes' kick made it 35-7 Rockets at the half.
A Tyler McClendon tackle in the backfield stopped the Cougars on the initial drive of the second half and the Rockets nailed shut the coffin on a Lamb to Daughrity toss and score from 16-yards out and from there, Stacey went to his second teamers.
Freshman Dontay Baugh added the final Forrest score on an eight-yard fourth quarter run and the talented running back ended up leading the Rockets in rushing on the night with 113 yards on just 5 carries, including a non-scoring 68-yard jaunt.
Lamb had a huge game with 102 yards on the ground and a score and 113 yards in aerial yardage on a 5-9 performance and three TDs.
Ray rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries, Brandon Beech had 15 yards, Triston Newman had 12 yards in relief of Lamb, and Smith had 8 yards and the one touchdown before leaving the game with an injured knee.
Anderson and Daughrity had two catches apiece with 52 and 26 yards respectively and Johnson had the one scoring catch for 35-yards.
On defense, Wheeler led the unit with seven tackles, while Byron McCullough and Blake Leonard had five takedowns each.
Forrest entertains Huntland at the "Rock" in Chapel Hill Friday night at 7:00 p.m. for senior night.
"I think the kids are peaking at the right time," said Stacey. "Senior night, we always want to win that game. We just have to take them one at a time and the last two will be huge, but we have to take care of Huntland first because it will be a critical game as far as the playoffs go."
Forrest (5-2, 2-1) finishes the season with road games at Cascade (5-2, 3-0) and Moore County (5-3, 2-2).
Stacey added, "They are all important from this point on and we have to treat each one like it is the first round of the playoffs."