Vikings spoil Rockets' perfect season
The FMS Rockets, hoping for an unbeaten season and the honor of holding the Duck River Valley Conference championship trophy came up two points short Thursday night at the Murrey E. Holton Field in Chapel Hill, losing 14-12 to a determined Community squad.
"It was a rough night, sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way," said FMS head coach Bart Joyce. "The boys played hard, they fought and fought and fought, but sometimes you fall a little short and that's all you can say about tonight."
The little things
In games of this magnitude, one or two mistakes, the ball bouncing the wrong way, or just being outplayed on the night by the opposing team will determine the outcome.
"Community has got a great team, they played hard, and Coach (Aaron) Reid has them well-coached," said Joyce. "That's a good ball club, it was one of those in your face, ground and pound game and that is what it came down to, inch by inch, yard by yard and that is what it came down to in the end."
The Rockets outgained Community 250 to180 in total yards in the contest and had one more first down (8-7) and one more penalty (6-5), but the miscues that changed the game happened at the most inopportune times.
A huge goal line stand by the Vikings at the end of the first half, a Forrest touchdown run negated by a holding penalty in the third quarter, and a devastating fumble in the fourth quarter was too much for the Rockets to overcome against the stout Vikings' squad.
Forrest had to punt after their first possession came to a halt and the Vikings seized the early momentum, embarking on an eight-play, 52-yard drive that was capped off by a four yard touchdown run by Karson Bridges, who also added the 2-point conversion run, making it 8-0 with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Trickery pays off
The ensuing Community kickoff went out of bounds and the Rockets started their drive from their own 35-yard line.
After three running plays moved the ball near midfield, Nick McClendon busted loose on a big run inside the Vikings' five-yard line.
Two plays later, Evan Ethridge busted into the Community end zone for a touchdown, making it 8-6 with 7:25 remaining in the first half.
The Vikings stopped the FMS 2-point conversion try and that would loom huge as the game progressed.
The Forrest defense got the ball back on downs with less than two minutes to play in the first half and drove 48 yards to the two-yard line, but were stopped on a third and goal as time expired.
The Rockets went to some trickery to begin the second half with an onside kick that was recovered by McClendon at the 42-yard line.
Moments later, Wesley McCoy ran for an apparent touchdown, but the play was called back on a holding penalty and the drive would stall soon after when a second trickery play failed via a fake punt.
On the next snap, Zach Dabbs took a handoff and ran for a 37-yard touchdown, making it 14-6 after the two-point conversion try was stopped by FMS with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter.
The Rockets' offense was thwarted again by Community, who took over on downs with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
Community was also halted by the FMS defense and gave the ball back to the Rockets with 7:47 remaining in the title tilt.
Back in the game
Forrest marched down the field, needing just six plays to score with McClendon posting the TD run, making it a 14-12 contest.
For the second time in the game, Unionville stooped the two-point conversion run to maintain the slim two-point lead with 5:11 left in the game.
The Rockets special teams came up huge, recovering a short kick that was fumbled by Community at the FMS 42-yard line.
Undefeated season gone
It was not to be as the Rockets coughed the ball up on the next play and Community ran out the final 4:53 seconds of the contest to claim their first DRVC title.
"The boys fought hard all year long and I am just so proud of the boys," said Joyce. "They gave the coaching staff and me one hundred percent week in and week out and I appreciate having each and every one of them."
McClendon led the Rockets in the rushing game, gaining 116 yards on 12 carries, while McCoy ran for 72 yards on 10 carries, Ethridge gained 47 yards on nine carries, Justin Leonard had one touch for 13 yards, and Josh Meglis ran the ball one time.
Meglis also completed one pass to Ethridge for 10 yards.
Dabbs ran for 98 yards on nine carries for Community, while Luke Murrill picked up 50 yards on a dozen touches and Bridges ran for eight yards.
McClendon, McCoy, Dowlen Hosford, Carter Housch, and Pryor Haines were all named to DRVC All-Conference squad for the Rockets (8-1).