Forrest playoff dreams shattered in Parsons
The Forrest Rockets' post-season dreams came to an abrupt, gut-cutting end Friday night in Parsons as Decatur County-Riverside shocked everyone in the stadium when Panther quarterback Luke Ward found Andrew Lamance on a 43-yard game winning touchdown strike with 9 seconds to go in the ballgame to eliminate Forrest 14-10.
In the post-game interview, Forrest head Coach Kyle Stacey said, "This team has overcome so much this year with injuries, re-doing the line and all kind of things. They have accomplished a lot and I am very, very proud of them for that."
The Rockets seemed to have the game won after an Angel Reyes 22-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the contest put them ahead for the first time, 10-7.
After the Reyes field goal, the Rockets' stingy defense stuffed the Panthers on a three-and-out.
Forrest drove the ball to the Decatur County 44-yard line before the Rockets nearly missed downing a perfect Reyes punt at the Riverside one-yard line when they stepped on the goal line, trying to down the kick.
"If we could have covered that punt, I think it might have made a difference," said Stacey
Starting at their own 20-yard line, Ward and the Panthers played a game of pass and catch with sideline tosses to stop the clock until they fooled the Rockets on the over the top touchdown strike down the home sidelines for the go-ahead score.
"We were in a prevent defense and sometimes when you are in prevent, it prevents you from winning," said Stacey.
As the hometown fans roared with jubilation, the visiting Rocket faithful went silent, realizing their season was ending in nine seconds unless the Rockets had a miracle of their own in store.
There was no miracle as Brooks Lamb's desperation heave was intercepted by Panther defensive back Bryan Brooks to end the game and the Rockets' season.
The Rockets (8-4) were trying to become the first Forrest squad to advance past the second round since the inception of the TSSAA state playoff system in 1969.
Decatur County-Riverside (5-6) moves to the quarterfinals as they make a short trek over to top-seeded Adamsville (10-1), who beat Cascade on a Dustin Plunk 22-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.
Forrest struggled on offense all night as they went three-and-out in their first three series of the game.
Conversely, Riverside got on the board on their initial possession of the contest when they drove 59-yards on nine plays, capped off by a Ward 12-yard TD pass to Chase Vise.
The Rockets finally got things churning on offense in the second quarter, marching 84 yards on just six plays for the game-tying touchdown when Lamb found Jonathon Anderson on a 17-yard scoring strike with 7:58 remaining in the first half.
There was no scoring in the third quarter and the only fourth quarter tallies were the Reyes field goal and the game-winner to Lamance.
The Panthers outgained Forrest 311 to 162 in the contest, had 14 first downs to the Rockets' 10, and led in time of possession 27:02 to 20:58.
The only turnover in the contest was the last second pass by Lamb.
"All good things come to an end sooner or later," said Stacey. "You hate for it to, but this group of seniors will look back over the years and really realize and understand that they have accomplished a whole lot in their senior year."
Lamb ended the season with some impressive numbers, including 721 yards rushing (13 TDs) and the junior quarterback finished with 938 yards in the air, completing forty nine percent of his passes (11 TDs) for a quarterback rating of 108.8.
Senior tailback Zach Ray capped off his stellar Rockets career with 1,233 yards on 221 attempts and scored twelve touchdowns on the ground, threw for one score, and caught 45 balls for 197 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jacob Daughrity ended his impressive sophomore season, leading the Rockets in pass receptions with 15 catches for 438 yards and five touchdowns, and led the defense with four interceptions (2 TDs) and three fumble recoveries (1 TD).