FMS Rockets drop home opener to Fayetteville

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The FMS Rockets run out before the contest at Murrey E. Holton Field Thursday night. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a big opening season 35-12 win over Manchester, the FMS Rockets lost their home opener 22-18 to a very good Fayetteville squad.

"We just didn't execute very well, I mean there were a couple of play calls that I would like back," FMS coach Corey Searcy said. "The guys played hard for the most part, we knew what was coming but just didn't execute and that falls back on me."

Missing twos

The difference in the ballgame was the Rockets' inability to successfully convert three two-point conversions.

"The two-point conversions were very big in the game," Searcy said. "Like I said, that falls back on me, I thought we had the right play call, but a couple of the guys didn't really understand what going was on and that falls back on me. I told them, this one's on me tonight."

The FMS captains from left, Max Kirby, Noah Hill, Hunter Pendley, CJ Sanchez and Layne Strasser prepare to take the field for the opening coin toss.

FMS won the coin toss, but the Tigers stopped the Rockets on a three-and-out before setting the tone for the game as they ran the football six times, gaining 56 yards on the way to the opening score by Cade Hopkins from six yards out.

Quarterback Trey Hopkins banged in the two-point conversion for Fayetteville, making it 8-0 with 3:04 remaining in the first quarter.

To the end zone

FMS running back Joseph Whittaker (35) runs for a 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter in the Rockets' 22-18 loss to Fayetteville Thursday night at Chapel Hill.

The ensuing Fayetteville kickoff was covered at the FMS 32-yard line and on the next snap, Joseph Whittaker took it to the house for a touchdown, but the Rockets were denied the two-point run and trailed 8-6.

The Rockets forced a punt on the Tigers next possession and ran one running play for four yards before the end of the first quarter.

After garnering one first down, the offense sputtered and the Rockets punted the ball back to Fayetteville, which started on the 28-yard line.

The Tigers went into beast mode, pounding the Rockets on the ground, needing just six plays to cover the 72 yard scoring drive that was capped off by an Allen three-yard run. Allen added the two-point conversion, giving the visitors a 16-6 lead with 1:11 remaining in the first half.

Kickoff to TD

Whittaker came up with another big play, returning the Fayetteville kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown, but once again Forrest was unable to come up with the two-point try and the first half ended with the Rockets behind 16-12.

Forrest flubbed the kickoff to start the second half, giving Fayetteville great field position at the FMS 45-yard and they took advantage of the opportunity, driving down the field for another touchdown run by Allen from the three-yard line. This time FMS stopped the two-point try and trailed the Tigers 22-12.

Undaunted, the Rockets fought back with a 52-yard scoring series that was capped off by a Max Kirby one-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. For the third time in the contest, Fayetteville stopped the two-point conversion and Forrest trailed by four points, 22-18.

Cole Perryman (12) comes up to tackle Trey Allen (3) on a second half kickoff return.

Late game

The Tigers went into clocking eating mode, eating over seven minutes off the clock before FMS stopped them on a fourth down incompletion at the their own 46-yard line with 2:50 remaining in the contest.

An intentional grounding penalty on first down put the Rockets in the hole and they would not dig out as the game essentially ended on a curious fourth-down spike by Forrest.

"We told them we will leave it here on the field, we go and get better," Searcy said. "We are still a very, very young team. It's hard to come off an undefeated team and a lot of these guys are starting for the very first time, but we will learn from this and we are going to get better.

Fayetteville 8 8 6 0-22

Forrest 6 6 0 6-18

Forrest

Offense: Rushing 111 yards, Passing 22 yards, Total yards 133

Defense: Rushing 222 yards, Passing 0, Total yards 222

Penalties: Forrest 2-15, Fayetteville 4-20

Passing: Max Kirby 1-3-22 yards

Rushing: Joseph Whittaker 12-68-TD, Cason Warner 3-21, Justin Gillespie 2-20, Max Kirby 1-2-TD

Receiving: Hunter Pendley 1-22

Punts: Max Kirby 2-50

Kickoff Returns: Joseph Whittaker 1-70-TD

Cason Warner: 1-15

Justin Gillespie: 1-7

Cole Perryman: 1-0

Defense

Tackles: Cannon Cervantes 7, Jared Osborne 7, Cason Warner 5, John Dippold 3, Max Kirby 2, Jamon Moates 2, Cole Perryman 2, Joseph Whittaker 2, Hunter Pendley 2, Blake Burnham 1, Noah Hill 1

Next Game: Thursday, August 25 at Cascade, 6:30 p.m.