FMS Rockets win battle in Wartrace
The FMS Rockets kicked off the prep football season on a high note, travelling to Cascade where they won a spirited 22-14 battle versus their longtime arch rivals.
"There is not a better way to start the season," said Forrest head coach Bart Joyce. "Any time you come over to Cascade and get a win with a rival like that it is a great win and a great feeling. I'm proud of all these boys, they worked hard all summer long and it finally paid off tonight."
The Rockets won the battle in the trenches, rushing for a tough 154 yards on 35 carries.
"Up front offensively, Billy Perryman, Jacob Wright, Dowlon Hosford really played great and our backs hit the holes hard with (Carter) Housch leading it up through there," said Joyce. "It was just a great all-around effort on offense."
Seventh grader Wesley McCoy led the ground attack, carrying the pigskin, nine times for 90 yards, while scoring two touchdowns and rushing for a pair of two-point conversion.
Another seventh grader, Nick McClendon toted the rock a dozen times for 36 yards and scored on a 36-yard run.
McClendon also caught one pass for 16 yards from Rocket quarterback Josh Meglis, who went 2-2 for 37 yards in the contest, before leaving the field late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Pounding the line
Eighth grader Evan Ethridge pounded the ball 11 times for 24 yards, wearing down the Cascade defensive line.
Forrest also won the all-important turnover battle as they came up with a fumble recovery and an interception, while protecting the rock the entire game.
"There aren't many games you come into and come out of with no turnovers and we did that tonight," said Joyce. "The win came out from that when McClendon stripped the ball out down here in a tight ballgame."
Off to a win
Cascade received the opening kickoff and proceeded to pick up one first down before the Rockets stopped them cold, taking the ball back when a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
Forrest took over and picked up one first down before a penalty set them back as they faced a second down and 11 yards to go at the midfield stripe.
McCoy found a hole for seven yards and Blaze Sweeney picked up a single yard, setting up a fourth down snap.
McCoy took the handoff from Meglis and found a big hole to his left that he used to get to the sideline before turning up field for a 42-yard touchdown run.
McCoy added the two-point run and the Rockets led 8-0 with 38.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Champs strike back
Penalties killed the ensuing Cascade drive and the Champions stopped Forrest on four plays to take back the ball with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
Cascade was mired in another hole by the Forrest defense before the Champions put the ball in the air as quarterback Colby Melson found Landon Parker twice for big yardage before hooking up with Chandler Wiggins from five yards out for a touchdown.
The PAT was no good and the first half ended with the Rockets leading 8-6.
The Rockets took the second half kickoff and marched all the way to the Cascade 14 yard line where they were stopped on a fourth down play with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Miss and a score
Two plays later, McClendon stripped the ball and raced in for a touchdown, but there was holding on the return and Forrest had to start from Cascade's 34-yard line.
After a negative run on first down, the Champions jumped offside before McClendon scampered for seven yards on second down.
On a third and one, Meglis tossed a 16-yard completion to McClendon, setting up a first down at the 15-yard line.
McCoy scored on the next play and added the two-point conversion, putting the Rockets up 16-6 with 7:51 left in the contest.
Big lead, then...
Two plays into the next Cascade drive, Meglis picked off a Melson pass and was tackled at the Champions' 28-yard line.
FMS faced a third down and two when Meglis tossed a perfect strike to Alex Patemore at the one- yard-line where McClendon busted into the end zone for a touchdown, making it a 22-6 ballgame.
After a failed two-point conversion, Cascade needed just three plays to get on the scoreboard with the touchdown coming on an a Hunter Palmer eight yard run and Jay Hall added a successful 2-point conversion run, cutting the FMS lead to eight points with 2:29 remaining in the contest.
FMS took the kickoff and drove to the Cascade 34-yard line where they faced a fourth down and one before the game was delayed for 40 minutes due to an injured Cascade player having to be taken off the field by ambulance.
"I hope that kid from Cascade is OK," said Joyce. "I'm proud of the way the boys handled the delay and they stayed focused."
Ahead to stay
After the delay, Joel Burton, who had come in at quarterback for the injured Meglis, busted a quarterback sneak, setting up the victory formation.
"Joel has been working the whole time, you tell the boys you're one play from coming in, you're one play from coming in and that showed it tonight," said Joyce. "Joel Burton did a heck of a job, he was ready tonight, and he stepped up and ground out a first down when we really needed it."
The Rockets will be back in action next Thursday when the host the Community Middle School Vikings at "The Rock" in Chapel Hill with game time set for 6:30 p.m.