Rockets claim share of region
Forrest can own it all with home win this Friday on Senior Night
Forrest seized its championship opportunity Friday night at Murrey E. Holton Field in Chapel Hill, easily beating Eagleville 49-13 to capture at least a tie for the Region 4-AA title.
A win over Jackson County (2-7, 0-6) next week at home will give Forrest (8-1, 6-0) its first outright region title in 29 years.
"It's awesome. It's unbelievable," Forrest coach Matt Kriesky said. "We've been preaching this for three years -- we found the 1986 plaque and looked at it every day in the locker room and this isn't just for the boys, it's for the entire town and the entire community, and I hoped they enjoyed every minute of this."
It also was Pink-Out night in honor of breast cancer survivors and those who have lost the battle. In addition to that, on hand was the 1975 Forrest team that posted a 10-1 record capped by a win in the Crockett Bowl.
The Rockets honored both groups in a big way, taking a 14-0 first quarter lead and rolling home.
Forrest stuck with its season-long game plan, running the ball 40 times for 348 yards, an average of 8.7 yards a rush.
"I figured we'd all be tearing up like at Watertown, but this is a different kind of excitement where you just have big smiles on your faces and go around hugging your friend. It's awesome," senior lineman Neyland Darnell said. "One of the goals we set at the beginning of the year was to be region champs and we clinched that tonight, but now we want to win big next week and be undisputed region champs."
Slayton Wild led the ground attack with 109 yards on eight carries. Jake Elkins followed with 93 yards on 11 attempts. Each scored two touchdowns.
"We had the same mentality we always do," Elkins said. "We were just going to play smash-mouth football and play hard-nosed defense and the scoreboard shows it worked,
"(Title) feels amazing because it's something that hadn't been done here in 29 years and I'm glad I'm a part of the team that did it. Tradition, that's what this town is about and it's nice."
Meanwhile, the Forrest defense was rock solid, allowing just 29 rushing yards on 26 attempts.
"We wanted to limit their quarterback because he likes to throw a lot of deep balls and he can get you on the short ones, too, but our coaches really prepared us for this game and it really helped a lot," senior Jesse Pruitt said. "This (championship) is incredible and nothing like I've ever experienced before."
Forrest took the opening kickoff and compiled a 68-yard drive that ended in a 27-yard touchdown run by Elkins. Javier Rios added the first of seven straight conversion kicks for a 7-0 lead with 9:35 left in the first period.
Forrest stopped Eagleville on its opening series and a 10-play drive that lasted just over five minutes followed for the Rockets. Wild ended the all-run march, on an 8-yard burst to double the lead.
The first quarter ended with Forrest leading 14-0 and the Eagles in the midst of an offensive march that resulted in 1-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Ethan Cobb on the second play of the second quarter.
Forrest was forced to punt on its next series, but the Rocket defense also held, giving the ball back to FHS at the Eagleville 25-yard line after a shanked punt.
Aim is true
Moments later, Rockets senior quarterback David Andrews found tight end and classmate Pruitt for a 3-yard touchdown pass and a 21-6 lead with 5:18 left in the half.
With the clock winding down, Eagleville was forced to punt in the shadow of its end zone and another shank gave Forrest possession at the Eagles' 17-yard line with 56 seconds left.
Two incompletions made it third-and-10 before Andrews fired a pass to the end zone.
Eagleville was flagged for pass interference on the play and a following unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to the ejection on Matthew Pollard and gave Forrest the ball at the Eagleville 4.
Three snaps later, Elkins went up and over the line for the score, making it 28-6 at intermission.
Eagleville had to punt again after receiving the second half kickoff, but they got the ball back on a Forrest fumble.
The Eagles capitalized on the mistake when Cobb hooked up with Antonio Turrentine on a 36-yards pass to cut the deficit to 28-13 with 9:22 remaining in the third quarter.
From there, Forrest took a stranglehold on the contest.
Wild rambled 46 yards for a TD with 5:50 left in the period, and after a defensive stand, Jacob Jones tossed a 44-yard halfback option touchdown pass to Payton Sisk for a 42-13 cushion on the final play of the period.
Eagleville turned the ball over on downs on its next offensive touch before Forrest sophomore tailback Bryton Spitzley put the icing on the title cake with a 35-yard touchdown jaunt with 6:50 left in the game. That brought on a running clock under the 35-point TSSAA mercy rule.
It will be Senior Night when Forrest entertains Jackson County Friday night in the regular-season finale.
"We're in playoff mode from here on out and will treat this like a playoff game," Kriesky said. "We'll go back to work, let the kids enjoy this tonight and tomorrow and then get back to work for Jackson County."
Eagleville 0 6 7 0 -- 13
Forrest 14 14 14 7 -- 49
F -- Jake Elkins 27 run (Javier Rios kick), 9:39.
F -- Slayton Wild 19 run (Rios kick), 3:06.
E -- Ethan Cobb 1 run (kick failed), 11:18.
F -- Jesse Pruitt 3 pass from David Andrews (Rios kick), 5:18.
F -- Elkins 1 run (Rios kick), 0:19.
E -- Antonio Turrentine 36 pass from Cobb (Josh Stout kick), 9:22.
F -- Wild 46 run (Rios kick), 5:50.
F -- Payton Sisk 44 pass from Jacob Jones (Rios kick), 0.00.
F -- Bryton Spitzley 35 run (Rios kick), 6:50.
Total Yards: Forrest 421, Eagleville 262.
Rushing: Forrest 348, Eagleville 29.
Passing: Forrest 73, Eagleville 233.
Forrest: Slayton Wild 8-109-2 TD, Jake Elkins 11-93-2 TD, Bryton Spitzley 3-61-TD, Jacob Jones 4-42, Clay Watson 4-11, Joseph Williams 5-11, Scrappy Osborne 1-8, David Andrews 2-6, Troy Turner 1-5, Dylan Pendley 1-2.
Forrest: David Andrews 4-8-29-TD, Jacob Jones 1-1-44-TD.
Forrest: Payton Sisk 1-44-TD, Slayton Wild 2-22, Clay Watson 1-4, Jesse Pruitt 1-3-TD.
Turnovers: Forrest 2, Eagleville 0.
Tackles: Forrest; Anthony Kritz 8, Billy Clanton 7, Jesse Pruitt 6, Slayton Wild 6, Bryton Spitzley 5, Payton Sisk 3, Boone Sweeney 3, Joseph Williams 3, David Andrews 2, Jake Elkins 2, Troy Turner 2, Clay Watson 2, Pryor Haines 1, Josh Hill 1, Dowlen Hosford 1, Jacob Jones 1, Tanner Kerr 1, Javier Rios 1, Tristan Sawyer 1, Bryton Spitzley 1, Jacob Wright 1.
Punts: Jacob Jones 1-45.