Rockets come back to seize region lead

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Forrest quarterback David Andrews throws a strike to Clay Watson in the second quarter for the Rockets, who came back to win 30-20 at Watertown Friday night. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest traveled to Watertown Friday night with its goal of winning the region title squarely in front of them and after trailing early, the Rockets stormed back for a 30-20 win over the Purple Tigers.

With the win, Forrest (6-1, 4-0) moved one game in front of Watertown (5-2, 4-1) in the Region 4-AA standings with three league games left to play.

"We snuck out of there with a win," said Forrest coach Matt Kriesky. "I think they were a little uptight in the first half, but they relaxed in the second half and played our style of football."

Goal in sight

The Rockets need two wins in their last three games to claim the region crown and most likely a first-round bye in the opening round of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association football playoffs.

"It feels great, it feels unbelievable actually," senior FHS quarterback Andrews said. "It was dogfight the entire time and we just proved we were the stronger team and pulled it out."

The Rockets won the toss and elected to receive at W. Robinson Stadium, but fumbled the ball away on their first play from scrimmage.

It didn't take long for the Purple Tigers to capitalize as they drove 59 yards in eight plays, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run by Seth Price. Nathaniel Gutierrez's extra point was good, giving the home team a 7-0 lead with 8:52 remaining in the first quarter.

Quick response

The Rockets responded, starting from midfield with 50 and driving to the Watertown where they faced a fourth-down-and-two.

Jake Elkins, who fumbled on the opening drive redeemed himself, rumbling to the 23-yard line for a first down.

Clay Watson runs for a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.

Clay Watson took it to the end zone on the next play and Javier Rios booted the extra point, tying the game with 5:24 left in the first quarter.

The Purple Tigers bounced right back, scoring in just under three minutes on a Price 34-yard strike to Zack Grisham.

Defenses dominate

Defense was the name of the game in the second quarter as the Rockets had three unsuccessful drives and Watertown two before Forrest got the ball with 2:35 remaining in the first half.

avier Rios boots a 22-yard field goal as time expires in the first half.

Forrest drove the ball to the Watertown 5-yard line where Rios booted a 23-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the first half.

The Purple Tigers held a 14-10 lead entering the third quarter and made it 20-10 when Skylor Scales returned the second half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.

Undaunted, the Rockets dug in when quarterback David Andrews converted a first down with a 14-yard run and Andrews followed with a pretty 29-yard pass to Watson down to the Watertown 14.

Never give up

"The kids have been that way all year, they don't let one thing get them down," Kriesky said. "That tells about the character of our football team---they had many opportunities to put their heads down and tuck their tail, but they fought through adversity and that's what I like to see."

Slayton Wild scored a rushing TD on the next play, but the extra point failed, making it 20-16 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.

"They got that big play on us, but we never got down on our teammates, stuck to the game plan and got the job done," said Wild. "They are a really tough team, but we came out with the win in the end."

The Rockets defense has been the best unit in the region this season and they came through once again, forcing a Watertown punt at the 7:16 mark of the third period.

Pulling ahead

The Forrest offense, also the best scoring unit in the region really got down to business, starting from the Watertown 20-yard line.

"We didn't play so well in that first half, but our defense came out and finished the game and that's how we won it," senior Clay Watson said. "Our defense did our job and we came out with the win and that has happened a lot."

Slayton Wild goes up and over for a touchdown, giving Forrest the lead for good with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter.

A bruising five minute plus drive rolled down to the Purple Tiger 1-yard line where Wild went up and over for the score.

Rios' extra point boot split the uprights, giving Forrest its first lead of the game at 23-20 with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter.

Forrest in control

Taking the lead stoked the Forrest defense that stopped Watertown cold, taking over on downs at the Purple Tigers' 40-yard line with 13 ticks left in the third quarter.

Six rushes later, the Forrest offensive line opened a huge hole that Elkins scooted through for a 17-yard TD.

Rios drilled the PAT, opening up a 10-point lead for the Rockets with 11:02 remaining in the contest.

Billy Clanton (16) comes up to hit Watertown running back Luke Turner in the hole, while two Purple Tigers lay on Boone Sweeney.

Bend but don't break has been the mantra of many great defenses and the Rockets played the role well as Watertown burned nine minutes off the clock before a fourth-down incompletion in the end zone ended the threat and essentially ended the game.

Coming up

The Rockets travel to winless East Robertson (0-6, 0-3) on Friday before taking a bye.

"This East Robertson team is improving each and every week and we are going to have come out and be ready to work next week," the coach said.

After the week off, the Rockets entertain Eagleville (3-4, 2-2) and Jackson County (2-5, 0-4) to end the regular season.

"We have to keep our eyes on the prize and can't have an off week," said Wild. "We have to treat everyone the same, prepare the same and not have a slipup."

Forrest 7 3 13 7 30

Watertown 14 0 6 0 20

First Quarter

W -- Seth Price 11 run (Nathaniel Gutierrez kick), 11:46.

F -- Clay Watson 23 run (Javier Rios kick), 5:24.

W -- Zack Grisham 34 pass from Price (Gutierrez kick), 2:54.

Second Quarter

F -- Rios 22 field goal, 0.06.

Third Quarter

W -- Skylor Scales 85 kick return (run failed), 11:46.

F --Slayton Wild 14 run (kick failed), 9:36.

F -- Wild 1 run (Rios kick), 2:45.

Fourth Quarter

F --Jake Elkins 7 run (Rios kick), 11:02.

Turnovers-Forrest 1, Watertown 1.

Total Yards

Forrest 392, Watertown 289.

Rushing-Forrest 315, Watertown 167.

Passing-Forrest 77, Watertown 122.

Intercepted by-Forrest, Payton Sisk.

Passing

Forrest-David Andrews 3-6-46, Jacob Jones 1-1-31.

Receiving

Forrest-Payton Sisk 1-31, Clay Watson 1-29, Slayton Wild 1-12, Joseph Williams 1-5.

Rushing

Forrest-Jake Elkins 16-122-TD, Slayton Wild 14-100-2TD, Clay Watson 3-26-TD, David Andrews 5-23, Joseph Williams 7-20, Jacob Jones 5-19, Jesse Pruitt 1-5.

Tackles

Forrest-Billy Clanton 10, Anthony Kritz 9, Jake Elkins 7, Boone Sweeney 6 (sack), Jesse Pruitt 5, Payton Sisk 5, Slayton Wild 3, Joseph Williams 2, Jacob Jones 2, Zach Russell 2, Tanner Kerr 2, David Andrews 1, Michael Dyer 1, Javier Rios 1, Tristan Sawyer1.