Rockets set records in rout
The Forrest Rockets routed Fayetteville 56-14 on a frigid Halloween senior night in Chapel Hill, setting a school record for most points in a season, while senior standout Zach McClendon shattered Zach Ray's single season rushing record.
The Rockets, who put up 548 yards of total offense versus the Tigers, have scored 341 points in 10 games, breaking the 1967 total of 339 points in 11 games.
McClendon rushed for 170 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns Friday night at the Murrey E. Holton Field, bringing his season total to 1,828 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground.
"It was a great night for the offense, Zach McClendon did a good job and all the guys up front did an excellent job, I'm proud of all of them," said Forrest head coach Matt Kriesky. "Coming off a big week I thought we might be down a little bit, but they came out and they responded to what we challenged them with this week and I am proud of them."
The District 9A final standings ended in a three-way tie as MTCS whipped Huntland 52-28, leaving all three squads with identical 5-1 league records.
The Rockets ended up with the short end of the stick as far as the TSSAA playoff tiebreakers went, ending up being hurt by playing a tougher schedule and finishing with a 7-3 overall record.
Forrest was designated as a four-seed and will host Decatur County Riverside (6-4) Friday night.
"It's the playoffs and you have to beat whoever they put in front of you," said Kriesky. "We will face an athletic Riverside team who run and throw the ball well on offense. They look like a better team from last year. We anticipate them stacking the box on defense and trying to stop our run game. I expect our kids to be focused all week and come ready to play Friday night."
It will be a playoff rubber match as the Rockets beat the Panthers 23-20 last year in Chapel Hill after losing a last second heartbreaker 14-10 in Decaturville in 2011.
"This will come down to the team who will play mistake free football on offense and which team will be more physical," said Kriesky.
Forrest had 11 offensive possessions versus Fayetteville, scoring touchdowns eight times, giving up two defensive scores on two others, and punting once.
The Rockets put the ball in the Tigers' end zone on their first three possessions, while completely stymying the Fayetteville defense.
In their most dominating performance of the season, the Rockets' defense held Fayetteville to a miniscule 37 total yards of offense in the contest.
"The defense did an excellent job tonight," said Kriesky. "Anthony Kritz continues to get better each week, Logan Hollingsworth, Slayton Wild, I could name off all 11 guys who are all playing excellent right now and that is what we need to keep doing."
McClendon scored on a 22-yard run on the first possession of the game, Jacob Jones's quarterback sneak on the Rockets' second touch made it 14-0, and with 10:20 remaining in the first half, Slayton Wild scored on a 57-yard touchdown run.
The Rocket defense stopped Fayetteville for the third straight time after the Wild touchdown, but on the next Forrest snap, Tra Emmons came up with a fumble and took it to the house for the Tigers, making it a 21-7 contest.
It was a momentary lapse for the Rockets as Jones handed the ball to McClendon six consecutive snaps on the next possession with the last touch resulting in a three-yard touchdown burst, putting the hometown boys up 28-7.
On the Tigers' next possession, Wild came up with a third down sack of Fayetteville quarterback Lex Marsh, forcing another punt.
35 points at half
The Rockets took over at the Fayetteville 48-yard line with 41 seconds remaining in the first half, and after a big gain on first down by McClendon, Logan Hollingsworth made it a 35-7 ballgame when he rumbled all the way to pay dirt from 39 yards out.
Fayetteville was not going anywhere on the first possession of the second half, punting for the fifth time in the contest, but they came up with their only stop on defense when Forrest was forced to punt.
The Rockets held firm, hammering Marsh on a third down stop in the backfield by Wild and Logan Ray, giving the ball back to the Rockets with 3:47 remaining in the first quarter.
Forrest drove the rock to the Fayetteville 29-yard line where Jones tossed a touchdown pass to senior tight end Blake Leonard.
Javier Rios, who has connected on 43 out of 47 extra point tries on the season, drilled the one-point kick through the uprights, making it 42-7.
Dylan Booker recovered a Fayetteville fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but the Rockets gave it right back when Jacob Pigg scooped up a Rockets' fumble and went 55 yards for a touchdown, making it 42-14.
Kriesky had most of the starters on the sidelines, but it did not matter as Joseph Williams took over at running back and scooted 46 yards on a second down run, all the way to the Fayetteville 19-yard line and three touches later, Williams scored from 13 yards out, making it 49-7.
Forrest did not let up on defense, stoning the Tigers on three plays to force another punt.
The Rockets were on verge of history as they drove the ball to the Fayetteville 11-yard line where Clay Watson took a handoff and crossed the goal line for the record setting touchdown, breaking the 47-yard old scoring record.
Williams would end up with 99 yards on five carries in the game, while Austin Harmon picked up 62 yards on six carries, Wild had the one 57-yard TD run, and Chance Hargrove continued his fine senior season with 29 yards, upping his season total to 521 yards on 83 carries.
Hollingsworth chipped in with 39 yards on his touchdown run, Watson had 13 yards, and Jones had two yards on his QB sneak TD.
Boone Sweeney led the defensive shutout with six tackles and a sack, Booker and Wild had five takedowns apiece, Leonard finished with four tackles, and Williams, Harmon, and Anthony Kritz all had three tackles in the contest for the Rockets.
Game time for Friday night's first-round playoff game is slated for a 7 p.m. start at "The Rock."
"We hope that everyone in Chapel Hill comes out this Friday night to the Rock and we would love to see our student section in full force like they were the Page game," said Kriesky. "Also, it would be great for the kids if we can get the stands packed again because I feel that could play a huge role in this game."