FMS Rockets crush Liberty, step nearer to title contest

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Joseph Whittaker (35) led the Rockets with 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns Thursday night at Liberty. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The FMS Rockets traveled to Liberty Thursday night to take on the winless Patriots and took care of business, coming away with an easy 38-6 win.

"We knew tonight was one of those games, playing a Liberty team that didn't have a win to watch for the trick plays and we got some of that," FMS coach Corey Searcy said. "We just had to stay patient as a coach and as a team and take what they give you. It wasn't pretty, but we got a lot of kids to play tonight and that was our goal."

Forrest (6-1) can secure a spot in the Duck River Valley Conference title game on October 13 with a win at Moore County on Thursday.

Title shot

"It's hard not to look down the road at what's coming, but now we are in the driver's seat for the championship game," Searcy said. "We just have to beat Moore County, go down there which will be a tough environment to play and if we win, were in."

The Rockets jumped on the Patriots early and often, scoring 13 points in the first quarter and 19 more in the second period to put the game away by halftime.

With the big scoring first half, FMS also got a chance to rest some starters and at the same time, the coaching staff got a great opportunity to give some of the younger Rockets some quality minutes in the second half.

"All these kids work really hard in practice and we got to reward them tonight," Searcy said. "We were just trying to keep the clock running, not get injuries and go home."

Subs on the field

Seventh graders John Dippold, Brayden Jones and Bryson Smith combined for 96 rushing yards in the 224-yard total effort by the Rockets and all three youngsters had one rushing touchdown in the game.

Joseph Whittaker led the Rockets in the ground assault, gaining 70 yards on just five carries, including touchdown runs of 42 and 11 yards, while Hunter Pendley had 55 yards on seven touches and one TD.

The Rockets also won on defense, forcing four Liberty turnovers, while the offense gave up the ball just once.

"We knew that (turnovers) may happen tonight and we just tried to stay focused and take what they gave us," Searcy said.

Hunter Pendley (6) jukes Liberty defender Brandon Perdue on the way to a 29-yard TD run to open the scoring.

FMS won the coin toss and elected to receive and then proceeded to march 57 yards on just three plays as they ran two rushing plays to the left before Hunter Pendley took a pitch from quarterback Max Kirby for the right sweep that resulted in a 29-yard TD.

Always in front

Carson Baker's PAT kick was true and Forrest never trailed in the coast-to-coast win.

The Rockets' defense stopped Liberty on a fourth down gang tackle and took over, needing only two plays to score again, this time on a Whittaker 42-yard jaunt down the Forrest sideline.

Liberty came up with a huge first down long pass, but the ball was knocked out by the FMS defense after the catch and was recovered by Cole Perryman at the Rockets' 36-yard line.

Forrest drove to the Liberty 34-yard line before suffering its only turnover of the game on a fumble, but four plays later, the Rockets stopped Liberty on another fourth-down play and took over with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter.

After two Smith runs to open the second period, Whittaker scored again and FMS led 20-0.

For the third time in three drives, the Rockets' defense stoned the Pats and took over on downs before putting together a five-minute back breaking drive that was capped off on a Smith one-yard TD burst.

Three plays into Liberty's next drive, Jonah Reid, who was all over the field all night, recovered a Liberty fumble at the Patriots 13-yard line and two Jones' runs later, Forrest led 32-0.

Jonah Reid (61) sacks Liberty quarterback Jacob Cooper in the Rockets' 38-6 win at Liberty Thursday night.

Time for learning

"This is Jonah's first year playing football and he is---without his shirt on in the locker room, one of the better looking athletes we have, so things are starting to click for him and he is starting to learn the game," Searcy said. "He works hard, he runs fast, he is a magnet to the football and he has a bright future for Chapel Hill football."

Liberty scored on a the opening drive of the second half, marching 80 yards in just five plays with quarterback Jacob Cooper finishing off the series with a one-yard TD run to make it 32-6 after a failed PAT run.

Forrest churned up the remainder of the third quarter clock and gave the ball back to Liberty on downs with 6:20 remaining in the contest.

CJ Sanchez (84) comes up with a fourth quarter interception for the Rockets, who caused four turnovers in the contest.

CJ Sanchez came up with an interception to spoil the Pats' drive, but Forrest gave it back on downs with 3:25 left in the game.

"CJ missed all the summer workouts, but is just a real good athlete and can make plays," Searcy said.

A Cason Warner interception on Liberty's ensuing drive turned into Forrest's final points when Dippold scored on a 20-yard end around run with 1:15 to play.

FMS 13 19 0 6-38

Liberty 0 0 6 0-6

Scoring Plays

First Quarter

FMS-Hunter Pendley 29 run, (Cason Baker PAT), 6:33

FMS-Joseph Whittaker 42 run, (PAT NG), 4:05

Second Quarter

FMS-Whittaker 11 run, (Baker PAT), 6:46

FMS-Bryson Smith 1 run, (PAT NG), 1:58

FMS-Brayden Jones 1 run, (PAT pass NG), 0:22

Third Quarter

Liberty-Jacob Cooper 1 run, (PAT NG), 4:10

Fourth Quarter

FMS-John Dippold 20 run, (PAT run NG), 1:15

Total Offense-FMS 224, Liberty 119

Passing-Liberty 77, FMS 0

Rushing-FMS 224, Liberty 42

Turnovers-Liberty 4, FMS 1

Penalties-FMS 4-20, Liberty 2-10

FMS Offense

Passing-Max Kirby 0-1-0

Rushing-Joseph Whittaker 5-70-2TD, Hunter Pendley 7-55-TD, John Dippold 2-38-TD, Bryson Smith 10-36-TD, Brayden Jones 8-22-TD, Max Kirby 1-3, Carson Baker 1-2, Hunter Bennett 1-(-2)

Defense

Tackles-Max Kirby 6, Cason Warner 6 (INT), Joseph Whittaker 3, Noah Hill 3, Justin Gillespie 2, Carson Baker 1, Blake Burnham 1, John Dippold 1, Jamon Moates 1, Jared Osborne 1 (fumble recovery), Hunter Pendley 1, Cole Perryman 1 (sack, fumble recovery), Jonah Reid 1 (sack), CJ Sanchez (INT), Layne Strasser 1