FMS halts Cascade in opener

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The FMS Rockets take the field in their season-opener Monday night in Chapel Hill. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest Middle School opened the season on a high note Monday night, beating Cascade 37-28 behind a strong performance from Nick McClendon, who rushed for 190 yards and four touchdowns at Murrey E. Holton Field in Chapel Hill.

"This feels great. I'm glad to be here at Forrest and it was a great environment here in Chapel Hill tonight, " said first-year Rockets coach Chris Benne. "I'm just so proud of my guys in what they did tonight. It was a great win, and hopefully, there are many more to come."

Winning run

Nick McClendon (26) rushed for 190 yards and four touchdowns as the Rockets opened the season with a 37-28 win over Cascade.

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points twice in the contest, but a 22-point fourth quarter by Cascade kept the game close until McClendon's 48-yard TD run with 1:16 left in the game sealed the win.

Forrest rushed for 248 yards in the game.

"I have a great group here, starting with the offensive line," Benne said. "They're really doing their job. They're physical and leading the way for McClendon and (Blaze) Sweeney and the rest of my skill players."

Blaze Sweeney (14) hauls in a pass from Joel Burton and gets ready to run over Cascade's Hunter Palmer (28) for a big gain.

After a scoreless first quarter, Cascade opened the scoring with 6:45 left in the first half when quarterback Blaze Bryson hit Hunter Jewell with a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Rockets fumbled the ball away on the ensuing possession, but stopped Cascade when Mason Walls sacked the Cascade punter at the FMS 31-yard line.

First Rocket score

Carson Blackwell (15) breaks a big kickoff return in the third quarter.

Three plays later, Sweeney scored on a 2-yard run.

Forrest fumbled the snap on the conversion kick attempt, but holder Max Kirby alertly picked up the ball and tossed to Sweeney in the end zone for the two-point conversion, making it 8-6 with 49 seconds left in the first half.

Forrest, which deferred after winning the opening coin toss, scored on its first drive of the second half after Carson Blackwell returned the kickoff to the Cascade 27.

Mason Walls (79) and Tate Garvin corral Cascade quarterback Blaze Bryson for a sack.

The key play of the drive was a 14-yard pass from Joel Burton to Sweeney on a third down play. McClendon finished it off with a 2-yard TD run. McClendon also added the two-point conversion run for a 16-6 lead with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter.

After the Rockets' defense forced a three-and-out, McClendon took it to the house from 67 yards on the first play of the ensuing FMS drive. Another two-point run by McClendon gave Forrest a 23-6 lead late in the third quarter.

Wild times

Cascade came back with a touchdown run by Jay Hall early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 23-12, but two plays later, McClendon scored again, this time from 54 yards. Dalton Colvin booted the extra point, re-opening the 17-point lead at 29-12.

FMS began to substitute after the touchdown and it may have been a little early as Cascade scored 18 unanswered points to cut the lead to a single point at 29-28 with 1:31 remaining in the contest.

"I was trying to keep my number ones fresh because we have another game versus Community this week," Benne said. "I have total faith in my second group and we came out victorious with their help."

An ensuing onside kick was recovered by Noah Hill at the Cascade 48-yard line. McClendon iced the game on the next play, dashing to the end zone. Sweeney tacked on a two-point run to make it 37-28 and time ran out on the Champions.

O-line rolls

"McClendon is a special, special player, but he'll tell you just like I will that he would not be able to do it without that great offensive line," Benne said.

The game was make-up contest from last Thursday. Forrest plays again at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Unionville.

"It's going to be tough for them to recover. They'll bounce back physically, it'll be the mental aspect that'll be tough. But my team is very strong mentally," Benne said. "We're going to be ready and give our best effort Thursday night.

Cascade 0 6 0 22 -- 28

FMS 0 8 15 14 -- 37

2nd Quarter

C: Hunter Jewell 9 pass from Blaze Bryson (Hunter Palmer run), 6:45. CMS 8-0

F: Blaze Sweeney 2 run (Sweeney pass from Max Kirby), :45. FMS 8-6.

3rd Quarter

F: Nick McClendon 3 run (McClendon run), 5:11. FMS 16-6

F: McClendon, 67 run (Dalton Colvin kick), 2:52. FMS 23-6.

4th Quarter

C: Jay Hall 2 run (PAT failed), 7:38. FMS 23-12.

F: Nick McClendon 54 run (PAT failed), 6:41. FMS 29-12.

C: Jewell 66 pass from Bryson (Keigon Walker pass from Bryson), 4:28. FMS 29-20.

C: Hall 5 run (Bryson run), 1:31. FMS 29-28.

F: Nick McClendon, 48 run (Sweeney run), 1:16. FMS 37-28.

Individual statistics

Forrest

Rushing: Nick McClendon 9-190; Blaze Sweeney 9-43; Spence Oliver 1-17; Joel Burton 1-3; Max Kirby 2-(-3), Cole Villazon 1-(-2).

Passing: Joel Burton 1, 14 yards, TD; Max Kirby 1, 2 yards, PAT

Receiving: Blaze Sweeney 2, 16 yards, PAT.