Raiders shut off Rockets for 9A title
The Moore County Raiders (10-0, 6-0) finished off a perfect regular season, dominating Forrest (6-4, 4-2) on both sides of the ball in a 28-7 win Friday night in Chapel Hill, perpetuating their 25-year plus domination over the Rockets.
With the win, Moore County earned a number one seed and a bye in next week's first round of the Class 1A playoffs, while Forrest garnered a five seed with their third place finish in league play and will travel to four-seeded Mt. Pleasant (6-4) on Friday night in a 2A match-up.
Forrest head coach Joe Moos said after the game, "If we play like we did tonight, we will lose in the first round. We have to fix things here now."
The Raiders domination over Forrest started with senior quarterback J.P. Evans, who gained 145 yards on the ground on 19 carries, while throwing for 63 yards, including a touchdown pass.
Junior running back Matt Taggett added 56 yards rushing on 15 carries with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, plus a back breaking 80-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that immediately followed Forrest's only score of the ballgame.
"Moore County is a very good team," said Moos. "That number eleven, special kid, special player and the running back number 20, a special kid, special player."
The Raiders outgained the Rockets 322-173 in the contest, jumping on Forrest quickly with two first quarter touchdowns that put the home squad in a hole they would never to be able to escape.
"We didn't score offensively, and that is my fault, I have to fix some things on offense." said Moos. "And we gave up too many touchdowns, that is my fault and we will fix it on offense, regroup and get ready for the playoff game."
The Rockets' lone score came at the outset of the second quarter when FHS QB Brooks Lamb finished off a 56-yard, eight play drive with a seven yard touchdown run.
It was Lamb's eighth touchdown run of his senior season.
Taggett took the ensuing kickoff to the house and the Rockets never really threatened the Raiders again as the Moore County defense pitched a shutout the remainder of the game.
Moore County scored the games' final touchdown on a Taggett 12-yard touchdown scamper with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter and Evans added the two-point conversion.
The Rockets went three-and-out on their next three drives after Moore County's last touchdown and Taggett finished off the Rockets for good when he picked off Lamb with three and a half minutes to go in the contest.
Lamb finished with just 16 yards on 11 carries and threw for 44 yards in a 3-12 performance in his final home game.
Brandon Beech led the Rockets' paltry rushing attack with 41 yards on eight touches and Ritchie Smith gained 40 yards on 13 carries.
Dakota Zimmerman rushed the ball twice for 27 yards, but had the Rockets' biggest play from scrimmage with a 31-yard run as part of a second quarter drive that ended in a missed field goal by Andrew Charles.
Forrest's Thaddeus Reyes had two catches for 21 yards and Trevor Wellisley hauled in one Lamb pass for 23 yards.
Other District 9A teams to make the playoffs was second place Eagleville (6-4, 5-1), who beat Cascade 28-6 to earn a 1A first round home game versus Monterey (5-5), while the District 9A fourth place Champions take to the road (6-4, 3-3) at 2A Watertown (7-3).
"I think we can play with anybody, anytime, anywhere," said Moos. "When we don't do that it bothers me, not because it's just about winning, but I care about these kids, love these kids and I think we can do better than we did tonight."
The winner of the Forrest-Mt. Pleasant game will travel to top seeded and AP Top Ten No.4 Adamsville (9-1) in the second round.