Rockets take care of business

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Bryce Oliver leads the charge, carrying the Forrest flag as the Rockets take the field before Thursday's playoff game against Bledsoe County. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest claims 2A playoff opener

It wasn't pretty, but it doesn't have to be this time of year.

Forrest (10-1) is the lone Region 4 team to advance to the second round of the Class 2A Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's playoffs after a 28-13 victory against Bledsoe County Thursday night at Murrey E. Holton Field.

"This time of year, a win is a win and we get to move on," Forrest coach Matt Kriesky said. "Now, we get to correct our mistakes from tonight and prepare for our next opponent."

The Rockets will face Region 3 second seed Marion County (10-1), which pasted Westmoreland 42-0 in its opener Friday night at Jasper.

Running it in

Forrest was efficient against the Warriors, rushing the ball 53 times for 295 yards. All four of the Rockets touchdowns came off runs.

Joseph Williams runs through a huge hole for one of his three touchdowns on the night.

Senior Jake Elkins tallied the first score of the game for Forrest, while fellow classmate Joseph "Cheese" Williams had the other three.

The Forrest defense held Bledsoe County to 116 rushing yards on 30 carries, forcing the Warriors to pass the 24 times. Payton Sisk, Anthony Kritz and David Andrews all had an interception for the Rockets, who didn't suffer a turnover.

"I was really impressed with our secondary -- Sisk had a good interception, Kritz had one and Dave (Andrews) came up with that tip at the end," Kriesky said. "It was a huge three turnovers and I'm really proud of those guys."

Defensive pressure

The Rockets put pressure on Warriors quarterback Chaise Sorrows the entire game, wearing down his offensive line to record three sacks in the second half.

Forrest won the opening coin toss and drove near the midfield stripe before being forced to punt.

Bledsoe rushed the ball three times before going for a fourth-and-1 run that was stuffed by Mr. Football candidate Boone Sweeney, who drilled running back Joseph Gore at the line of scrimmage.

"They were a good physical football team, but we got the 'W,'" Sweeney said. "It wasn't pretty, but we did what we had to do."

The Rockets took advantage of the stop, scoring four plays later on a 9-yard run by Elkins. Javier Rios added the first of his four conversion kicks on the night for a 7-0 lead with 6:28 remaining in the first quarter.

Scoring drives

Mr. Football semifinalist Boone Sweeney (62) takes down Bledsoe County running back Caleb Smith with some help from fellow senior Jake Elkins (17).

Another Forrest defensive stand led to an offensive series that started at the Bledsoe County 30-yard line and ended 12 plays later when Williams scored on a 5-yard run with 10:16 left in the second period.

The Warriors got some offense going on their next drive, but the Forrest defense held and Bledsoe County settled for a 41-yard field goal by Brett Boring with 7:21 left in the half.

The Rockets' next drive stalled, forcing a Jacob Jones punt, and the Warriors came up with a big play moments later when Boring hit Blake Rogers with a long pass for a first down at the Forrest 13. Two plays later, however, Sisk came up with a circus catch of a Boring pass at the goal line and a subsequent personal foul on the Warriors gave Forrest the ball at the 22.

Clay Watson comes up with a huge catch in the second quarter to make it first-and- goal for the Rockets.

The Rockets covered the distance to the end zone in eight plays, the final one a 9-yard run by Williams with 43 seconds left in the half for a 21-3 lead. The march included a nice catch by Clay Watson to set up the touchdown.

Halftime lead

Bledsoe made the most of the remaining time, driving to the Forrest 15 to set up a 32-yard field goal by Boring that cut the deficit to 21-6 at intermission.

"That first half lead was huge," Kriesky said. "We got up on them and I felt like that helped us to do what we wanted to do (in the second half). We controlled the game, so I'm proud of the guys for doing that."

The interception by Krtiz spoiled a good Bledsoe County drive to open the second half, and the Rockets cashed in on the turnover, driving 67 yards in nine plays with Williams scoring his final TD of the game on a 2-yard run.

Slayton Wild and Boone Sweeney (62) celebrate the first of two sacks for Wild on Bledsoe County quarterback Chaise Sorrows.

The Warriors produced their only touchdown on their next drive via Boring's 19-yard run. They then recovered the onside kick to put additional pressure on the Rockets. But on a third-and-9 play on the first snap of the fourth quarter, Slayton Wild sacked Boring to force a punt.

Wearing them down

"We started to wear their line down in the second half and we got some guys coming fast off the end and coming hard and they did their job," Sweeney said.

The Rockets sapped about three minutes from the clock before punting, but another sack by Wild stopped the Warriors again. From there, the Rockets weren't tested on defense again.

Forrest, which has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs, hopes to change that when it entertains a Marion County squad that beat the Rockets 20-17 at Chapel Hill in a 2009 first-round playoff game.

Bledsoe County 0 6 7 0 -- 13

Forrest 7 14 7 0 -- 28

First Quarter

F -- Jake Elkins 9 run (Javier Rios kick), 5:02.

Second Quarter

F -- Joseph Williams 5 run (Rios kick), 10:16.

B -- Brett Boring 41 field goal, 7:21.

F -- Williams 1 run (Rios kick), 0:43.

B -- Boring 32 field goal, 0.00.

Third Quarter

F -- Williams 2 run (Rios kick), 3:11.

B -- Chaise Sorrows 36 run (Boring kick), 0:42.

Total Yards: Forrest 371; Bledsoe County 238.

Rushing: Forrest 295; Bledsoe County 116.

Passing: Forrest 76; Bledsoe County 122.

Forrest stats

Rushing: Jake Elkins 12-88, TD, Slayton Wild 13-52, Clay Watson 5-48, Joseph Williams 8-47, 3 TD, Scrappy Osborne 4-21, Troy Turner 3-14, Jacob Jones 2-12, David Andrews 3-11, Dylan Pendley 1-2, Bryton Spitzley 1-1.

Passing: David Andrews 5-10-0, 76.

Receiving: Billy Clanton 1-27, Clay Watson 2-23, Slayton Wild 1-17, Joseph Williams 1-9.

Turnovers: Bledsoe County 3.

Interceptions: David Andrews, Anthony Kritz, Payton Sisk.

Tackles: Jesse Pruitt 11, Clay Watson 7, Boone Sweeney 6, Billy Clanton 4, Tanner Kerr 4, Dylan Pendley 4, Neyland Darnell 3, Payton Sisk 3, Slayton Wild 2 (2 sacks), Jake Elkins 2, Zach Russell 2, Kota Hartley 1 (sack), Michael Dyer 1, Jacob Jones 1, Anthony Kritz 1, Austin Welty 1, Joseph Williams 1.