FMS Rockets stave off Viking invasion

Friday, August 15, 2014
The 2014 Forrest Middle School Rockets. (Photo by Vaughn Photography)

The FMS Rockets played back and forth scoring football for a quarter with Community before staving off the Viking invasion with a stiff defense and a punishing running attack to win their home opener 36-20 Thursday night in Chapel Hill.

"We have got to tighten things up, we found some weaker points that we need to work on and we will work on that in practice this week," said FMS head Coach Bart Joyce. "It was a group effort all the way around, our boys stepped it up tonight hitting wise, we just have to put it all together for a game and see what happens."

Wide open

Nick McClendon (26) rushed for 144 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns in the Rockets' 36-20 home opening win Thursday night. (Photo by

The Rockets had great field position at the Community 41-yard line after a 15-yard penalty on the Vikings during the opening kickoff and on the first play from scrimmage, Nick McClendon took it to the house and added the two-point conversion to make it 8-0, just 10 seconds into the contest.

Community struck right back when Zach Dobbs returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.

The PAT run was no good and the score was FMS 8, Community 6 with only 26 ticks gone off the game clock.

McClendon returned the Community kickoff to the 49-yard line and after two consecutive carries netted McClendon runs of five and 13 yards, the Rocket tailback zoomed to the end zone again, this time from 31 yards out.


Unbelievably, Dobbs went back-to-back, returning the FMS kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, but the PAT failed again and the Rockets led 14-12 with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter.

"Two plays on special teams almost beat us, it made the game in what should have been a three touchdown game to a two-point game at one point," said Joyce. "We practice that every day and we just have to keep getting better on them as we go."

FMS had to punt on their next possession and Community took over, but went backwards after a false start penalty and a McClendon tackle in the backfield for a loss.

On second down and 18, Luke Murrill fooled the FMS defense when he took a handoff on a reverse play and scampered untouched to the FMS end zone, giving the Vikings a 20-14 lead with 3:00 left in the first quarter.

On the next play from scrimmage, FMS fumbled the ball away and Dobbs recovered for Community at the Rockets' 47-yard line.

Big 'Mo' turns

Momentum shifted back to the Rockets' favor when Wesley McCoy came up with a strip fumble on a third down play at the FMS 47.

Three consecutive runs by the Rockets moved the pigskin to the Community 24 when the first quarter ended with the Rockets still trailing 20-14.

FMS continued to pound the football, driving to the Community five-yard line where Ethan Ethridge plowed in to the end zone and added the PAT run, putting the Rockets up for good 22-20.

The FMS defense stiffened, stopping Community on a fourth down play at the Rockets' 35-yard line and the first half ended with FMS up by two points.

Blaze Sweeney (14) and Carter Housch (73) team up for tackle on Community's Zach Dobbs (7). (Photo by Anthony S. Puca)

Defense, big plays secure the win

On the opening drive of the second half, the Rockets forced a Community punt and began their initial second half possession at their own 40-yard line.

Forrest stayed with the ground game, grinding the ball to the Community five-yard line where Ethridge bullied his way for his second touchdown of the game, making it 28-20 with 3:32 remaining in the third quarter.

Community covered up the ensuing FMS kickoff at the Rockets' 49-yard line and on the next play, the game changed for good when Blaze Sweeney intercepted a Landon Langley pass and returned it to the Vikings' 39-yard line.

"That big play by Blaze Sweeney really helped with that big interception there towards the end of the game and we had some other big plays with strips by McCoy and McClendon," said Joyce.

Two plays later, FMS signal caller Josh Meglis found Ethridge on a pass over the middle and Ethridge cut up the home sidelines and outran the pursuing Vikings from 54 yards out, making it 34-20.

McCoy added the PAT run to open up a 16-point lead for Forrest with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter.

Community drove to the Forrest 31-yard line and on a fourth down and four play, McClendon took the ball out of the hands of the Community running back, essentially ending the contest.

The FMS cheerleaders from left are, front row Kara Rakotz, Hannah Gray, and Kaitlin Welty. Middle row from left, Ally Piper, Miranda Sanders, Carson Holton, and Kyleah Winningham. Back from left, Kaitlin Simpson, Megan Viellette, Myah Hawkins, Claira Fontaine, and Shelby Trout. Photo by Vaughn Photography

Bring on the Pats

The Rockets would burn the clock and Community would not score on their final possession as FMS improved to 2-0 on the season and will travel to Liberty on Thursday night for a big conference tilt versus the Patriots.

"That is a big conference game against a pretty tough ball club," said Joyce. "They always have a tough physical team, so we just have to get tough with them."


Ethan Ethridge (5), who rushed for 114 yards and had two ground scores and a long TD reception, refuses to go down as he carries a pair of Vikings down the field. (Photo by Anthony S. Puca)

The Rockets rushed for 295 yards on 35 carries in the ballgame with McClendon leading the way with 144 yards on 15 touches and two touchdowns, while Ethridge also had a big night with 114 yards on six carries and a pair of rushing touchdowns.

McCoy ran the rock four times for 37 yards.

Meglis was 1-3 in passing in the contest with the one completion coming on the 54-yard touchdown strike to Ethridge.