Rockets bounce back in Wartrace

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Forrest's Austin Harmon (10) opens up the scoring with this 60-yard first-quarter punt return for a touchdown for the Rockets (1-1), who beat Cascade 35-21 in Wartrace Friday night. Photos by

After a 35-7 shellacking in Week Zero in Alabama, the Forrest Rockets showed some early season resiliency, travelling to Wartrace Friday night where they held on to beat Cascade 35-21, making first-year head coach Matt Kriesky's first victory a sweet one.

"It's always great to get your first win, especially against a very good Cascade team," said Kriesky. "I am fortunate to have a great staff that works hard each day to prepare these young men for Friday nights. Also, we have a great group of young men that work hard for us each day and that makes the job a little easier. It takes a team effort each day and we all have to continue to do our part so we can be successful."

No time wasted

The Rockets came out of the gate on fire, scoring on an Austin Harmon 60-yard punt return with 10:15 remaining in the first quarter. Javier Rios kicked the PAT for Forrest, giving the Rockets a 7-0 lead.

The Forrest defense stopped the Champions on downs for the second time in a row and moments later, Harmon scored again on a four-yard run, making it a 14-0 contest after Rios' boot for another point was good.

The Champions proceeded to turn the ball over to the Rockets, who scored on a Chance Hargrove five-yard touchdown run four plays later.

Cascade began to find their footing, stopping the Rockets cold in the second quarter, while scoring twice to cut the Forrest lead to 21-13 at halftime.

Complete game

"We told the team at half time that you can never let up on a good team and we allowed them to get back in it, we have to learn from this and not allow it to happen again when we jump up on someone," said Kriesky. "Also, it is important for us to play four quarters of football and we haven't put together a complete game yet. We will continue to get better this week and make the necessary adjustments to have these guys ready to play four quarters of football."

The Champions would come all the way back to tie, chewing up most of the third quarter clock on one drive that resulted in an Austin Hass one-yard run with 3:13 remaining in the third period.

Ivan Spencer's two-point conversion run made it a 21-21 contest, heading to the fourth quarter where the Rockets put the game away on, beginning with a Zach McClendon one-yard touchdown run with11:15 left in the fourth quarter.

Final blow

Boone Sweeney (62) pancakes a Cascade defender, making a hole for Chance Hargrove (5), who ran for 70 yards and scored a touchdown versus the Champions.

Harmon, who finished with 69 yards on eight carries, put the icing on the winning cake when he scampered 37 yards for a touchdown with 4:57 remaining in the contest.

The Forrest defense would hold, giving Kriesky and the Rockets their first win of the season.

"It was huge for us and we knew it was going to be tough this week trying to stop their offense," said Kriesky. "Again, Coach (Lance) Horton had the defensive backs ready to play and we were able to use multiple coverages against them the entire night. One thing I hope that we learned from this game is that you can never let up and allow your opponent to get back into the game. We made some mistakes and let them get back in it and that was disappointing."

McClendon had a big night rushing the football, carrying the rock 20 times for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Hargrove toted the pigskin 11 times for 70 yards and a score, freshman Joseph Williams had a nice night with 37 yards on four carries, and Clay Watson broke off one run for 27 yards.

Rios was a perfect 5-5 in extra point boots.

Ready to go

"We are very proud of the kids and how they prepared this past week," said Kriesky. "Coach (Brent) Johns and Coach (Kyle) Stacey did an excellent job this week preparing the entire offense and executing the game plan."

Forrest will board the yellow bus for the third consecutive week, travelling to Lynchburg this week to take on a Moore County squad that has been a thorn in the Rockets' side for decades.

"This week's game against Moore Co is huge for us, Coach Austin and his staff do an excellent job, they are big and physical and have been able to move the ball well offensively in their first two games," said Kriesky. "Also, defensively they have had 11 guys running to the football on every play. It is going to be a huge test for us this week."

The Raiders opened the season with consecutive wins over Richland 38-6 in Lynchburg in Week Zero and last week, Moore County handled Cornersville 37-20 in Frog Hollow.

"Also, it was great Friday to see such a huge crowd supporting these young men," said Kriesky. "We need everyone to load their cars up again this week and make the trip to Moore County."