Rockets run over Bulldogs

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Zach McClendon (6), who rushed for a school-record 331 yards Friday night, heads to the goal line for one of his four touchdowns on the night as a Cornersville defender tries to hold on. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Cornersville Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with Forrest for much of the game Friday night before the Rockets put up 35 unanswered points in the second half to win the Battle of the North and South going away 49-14 at "The Rock" in Chapel Hill.

"We were very fortunate, the score is no indication of the game," said Forrest head coach Matt Kriesky. "Cornersville came out and out coached us, they were more physical than us and they came out ready to play tonight. You have to give hats off to coach Denton and his staff, they have a very good football team."

Rushing record

Tristen Sawyer (72) leads the way for the Rocket offensive line that opened up enough holes for the Forrest running backs to amass 542 yards on the ground versus Cornersville.

The Rockets rushed for 542 yards in the contest, including a record setting performance by senior Zach McClendon, who shattered the single game rushing mark at Forrest with 331 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns.

"Zach came out and played tonight, I can't say enough about him, he a senior leader and gets this team going," said Kriesky. "When he gets the ball, he runs hard, there were several times he had four or five guys trying to get him down."

It was the 12th consecutive win for Forrest over Cornersville, dating back to 1996 when the Bulldogs came away with a 13-7 win.

Before the game, the Forrest alumni honored long-time fan Amy Sweeny Jones, who recently passed away.

The two squads did not play the Battle of the North and South in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Bulldogs bite

The Bulldogs got the first break of the game when they recovered a fumble by the Rockets on the opening kickoff and Cornersville drove all the way to the Forrest five-yard line before being stopped on a fourth down play.

Forrest had to punt the ball away on their first possession and this time the Bulldogs capitalized, driving 54 yards on nine plays behind some on the target passing by Cornersville quarterback Jamie Crowell, who finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown strike to Zack Welch.

Ben Taylor kicked the PAT for Cornersville, who took a 7-0 lead with 2:06 remaining in the first quarter.

Rapid response

The Rockets answered in hurry, needing just six plays to score as McClendon busted loose on a 26-yard touchdown run and Javier Rios added the extra point, tying the game at seven with 11:33 remaining in the first half.

Cornersville was forced to punt after the Forrest touchdown and once again, the Rockets drove for a score, left in the first half.

The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their next touch, but kept the game within one touchdown when they withstood a six minute drive by the Rockets with the big play coming on a quarterback sack by Curt Taylor.

Blake Leonard would recover a fumble by Cornersville to ruin their chance of scoring before the first half ended with the Rockets still leading 14-7.

Charging to tie

Cornersville quarterback Jamie Crowell (10) rolls right before tossing a touchdown pass to Justin Black in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs exited the halftime break inspired, marching 71 yards on 10 plays, capped off by a Crowell 17-yard touchdown pass to Justin Black.

Ben Taylor's extra point was true, tying the game at 14-14 with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter.

It didn't take long for the Rockets to respond as they went on a 65-yard scoring drive that was finished by a Jacob Jones one-yard quarterback sneak for the score.

After the ensuing kickoff, Logan Ray tackled Chance Dyer at the line of scrimmage on first down and then disaster struck when Jones picked off a Crowell pass at the Cornersville 48-yard line, but the Bulldogs held, forcing a Forrest punt to negate the turnover.

The Bulldogs could not move the ball either and were forced to punt, but once again they stood tall, recovering a Forrest fumble with 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

On a third down and two play during their next drive, Boone Sweeney came up with a tackle on Crowell and the Bulldogs were forced to punt the ball away.

Rockets take off

On the next play, McClendon broke loose on a 52-yard touchdown run and Rios added the extra point boot, making 28-14 Rockets with 11:10 remaining in the contest.

Forrest would stymy the Bulldogs again on offense, forcing another punt and McClendon made it a three-score game when he rambled 58-yards for a score on first down.

Rios PAT was good and so was his kickoff as the Rockets covered at the Bulldogs' 17-yard line.

Sweeney busted through the Bulldogs' offensive line and sacked Crowell on the next play, and after a second down incompletion, Slayton Wild made an acrobatic interception and tip-toed the sidelines for a pick six, putting the game out of reach at 42-14.

The Bulldogs tried to come up with a touchdown, but the Forrest defense would have none of it, stopping Cornersville on a fourth and goal with 3:57 left in the game.

Joseph (Cheese) Williams capped off the scoring for the Rockets when he rambled 43 yards for touchdown after the stop, cementing the 35-point win for the Rockets.

Bulldog stats

Cornersville's Chance Dyer (15) rushed for 101 yards in the Bulldogs' 49-14 loss at Chapel Hill Friday night.

Dyer rushed for 101 yards on 20 carries and led the Bulldogs on defense, coming up with a team high seven tackles.

Crowell was 18-37 for 161 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Jamie is a great quarterback and a heck of an athlete and Dyer is a great running back, that is a heck of a football team," said Kriesky.

Black had two catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, Devante Spencer caught six balls for 54 yards, Welch made four receptions for 38 yards and a score, Dyer had two catches for three yards, and Kolbe McMahon snagged one pass for 10 yards for the Bulldogs (1-3, 1-0), who entertain Mt. Pleasant (1-3, 1-0) this week in Frog Bottom.

Rocket stats

Sweeney led the Rockets on defense with eight tackles and a sack, while Dylan Booker, Anthony Kritz, and Jesse Pruitt all had seven takedowns.

Leonard finished with five tackles and a fumble recovery and Logan Ray also had five tackles in the contest.

Williams carried the ball four times for 92 yards, Austin Harmon had 52 yards on seven touches before leaving the game with an injury, Wild rushed 46 yards on four carries, Chance Hargrove managed just 11 yards on four touches, Booker had nine yards on two carries, and Jones rushed the one time for a touchdown for the Rockets (3-1, 1-0), who travel to Eagleville (2-2, 0-1) Friday night.

Final shot

Forrest has lost four straight to the Eagles with their last win coming via a 17-3 triumph in Chapel Hill in 2009.

Forrest's Tyler McClendon was honored before the game as he was presented his championship ring by several local business leaders for capturing the TSSAA state wrestling championship title. From left, Bill Beasley (Chapel Hill Lions Club President), John Dippold (CHYFL), Josh Roberson, Richie McClendon, Laura McClendon, Tyler McClendon, Kyle Stacey, Barry Hill (RC Hobby), and Jimmy Bass (First Commerce Bank). Not pictured, David Delk, who gave a personal donation.

"They (Eagleville) are the team of the district, they are the district champs the last two years," said Kriesky. "There is nobody on this football team that has beat Eagleville, the seniors are 0-3 and this is their last shot at Eagleville, so we have to come ready, practice hard all week and come to play Friday night."