Forrest sacks Cascade in overtime
To say that Forrest got lucky in a 33-27 win over archrival Cascade might be correct, but that would not give credit to a clutch effort turned in by the Rockets' defensive and offensive lines when it counted in overtime.
Rocket QB Brooks Lamb, who scored the game-winning touchdown last year in Wartrace, said after Friday's game in Chapel Hill, "It doesn't get any better than this. Somebody asked me last year after the overtime when I ran it in if it would have been as sweet, beating them in overtime if you didn't run the ball. I couldn't answer that question until this year, watching Beech run into the end zone was every bit as sweet."
Forrest turned in a relatively error free effort for most of the night, leading at the half and after three periods before the Champions stormed back to tie the game at 27 with 4:19 remaining in the contest.
Cascade needed the extra point, potentially sealing the deal, but pressure up the middle forced Trent Sutton to hurry the boot and it clanked off the left goalpost to keep hope alive for the Rockets.
Disaster struck when Forrest coughed up the ball on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Champions a second chance of handing the Rockets a devastating loss.
The Forrest defense was up to the task, stopping the orange and black cold to force a punt with 2:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets drove the ball into Cascade territory, but an interception by Demonya Jones gave the Champs their third chance to put Forrest away.
Cascade had just 1:10 to work with, but could not muster enough offense to score, sending the game to overtime.
The Rockets won the coin toss and elected to play defense as the Cascade offense began the extra period at the 10-yard line.
Two consecutive runs by Cody Smith gained two yards, setting up a third and goal.
Rocket sophomore defensive end Logan Hollingsworth came up with the play of the game, busting through the Cascade offensive line to sack freshman quarterback Chandler Sulcer at the 25-yard line.
"That was the biggest tackle of my life," said Hollingsworth after the game. "I'm serious, I haven't done anything like that, that was big and I knew we had it from there."
Out of field goal range, Cascade went to the play that had worked for most of the night as Sulcer found tight end Matthew Combs on a quick slant over the middle, but Combs was gang tackled at the 5-yard line and Forrest went on offense to try to win the game.
"Our defense came up big all night, not just in overtime," said Lamb. "Our offense put them in bad spots, but the defense stepped up and came through, it was a complete group effort."
Richie Smith pounded the rock to the 5-yard line on first down and gained another yard on second down before Brandon Beech busted into the end zone to win the game.
"That play was nasty-four, pound it into their face," said Lamb. "I talked to coach Moos on the sideline and he said we are stronger, we work out more, we can do it, and we did."
The win sets up a monster senior night match-up at "The Rock" next week versus undefeated Moore County (9-0, 5-0).
"Moore County's always good, definitely this year," said Beech. "But, if we play like we did tonight, there is no doubt in my mind that we can take them."
Forrest (6-3, 4-1) scored on their first possession, going a 68-yard drive on nine plays that was capped off by a Beech 4-yard TD run.
Andrew Charles PAT was good at the 6:52 mark of the first quarter.
The Champions came right back as running back Creed Rose did most of the damage on the ground and scored from 2-yards out after a 64-yard drive.
Sutton kicked the extra point and the score was 7-7 after the first quarter.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Rose scored again and Cascade led 14-7.
The Rockets responded, set up by a solid kickoff return by Dakota Zimmerman down to the Cascade 37-yard line.
Seven plays later, Lamb scampered into the Cascade end zone from 8-yards out, making it 14-13 after Charles' extra point was blocked.
Austin Harmon recovered an onside kick at the Cascade 36-yard line, but the ensuing drive stalled out and Forrest gave the ball back to Cascade on downs.
The Champs were unable to move the ball and punted to Jacob Daughrity, who juked his way down to the Cascade 36-yard line.
It did not take Forrest long to take the lead as Beech scored from 12-yards out with 44.4 seconds remaining in the first half.
Charles PAT found the middle of the uprights and the Rockets led 20-14 at the half.
Forrest received the second half kickoff and scored in a hurry with the big play coming on a Lamb to Daughrity 31-yard strike down to the Cascade 6-yard line where Richie Smith finished off the drive with a touchdown run.
Charles' kick was good and the Rockets had a nice 27-14 lead.
The Rocket defense forced Cascade to give the ball back when Spenser McGuiggan came up with a huge fourth down sack with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cascade defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back.
Four plays later, Cody Smith ran it in for a touchdown from the 14-yard line and Sutton added the PAT to make it a 27-21 ballgame.
The game moved to the final quarter and both squads traded punts before the Champions mounted the drive that was capped off with 12-yard touchdown run by Dakota Vaught and the missed extra point by Sutton with 4:19 left in the contest.
The Rockets ended up with eight quarterback sacks in the contest with Hollingsworth and Beech getting 2.5, while McGuiggan netted two and Logan Ray recording the other.
"That is how we prepared this week," said Beech. "We were going to sack them and give them pressure so they couldn't stand back there and pass. After every first down and second down, we were looking at each other to get back there and get a sack."
Beech ran for 80 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns, Smith netted 81 yards on 15 touches and scored once and Lamb ran for 52 yards on a dozen carries with a touchdown and threw for 89 yards, completing six out of thirteen passes.
Daughrity was Lamb's main target, hauling in three passes for 65 yards, while Thaddeus Reyes caught two passes for 16 yards and Trevor Wellisley had one catch for eight yards.