Unbeaten Rockets stop Watertown
Forrest legendary coach Murrey E. Holton would have been proud of the Rockets Friday night with the manner in which they secured their seventh consecutive win to start the season, outlasting Watertown 35-28 on the field named in his honor.
"It feels great, it feels surreal to be honest with you," Forrest coach Brent Johns said. "I think it may take some time for this to sink in."
Chapel Hill put together an epic fourth quarter, seven minute plus drive with all 16 snaps in the series of the pound and ground variety, wearing down and keeping the ball away from the Purple Tigers, who were left with just 28 seconds on the clock after senior Jacob Jones capped off the ground assault with an eight-yard TD run.
"We felt like we might be in better shape than them because we were in better shape than them last year and we just wanted to get to the fourth quarter with a chance," Johns said. "We had an offensive package (Husker) we had saved for the fourth quarter and on that last drive we took it down the field on that package."
"We kept mixing up, inside-outside-left-right with that big unbalanced package and they didn't have an answer for it."
The Rockets (7-0, 4-0) came into the contest ranked fifth in Class 2A, while the Purple Tigers (6-1, 3-10 were in the third spot, but after the Forrest win, the two Region 4AA teams flipped flopped spots in the Associated Press' Top 10 Poll this week.
"All I have to say is everybody in the state doubted us and we proved everybody wrong," Wild said. "We were underdogs in our own house and that is very disrespectful. We came out here and got the job done, we hit them in the mouth, who is Watertown?"
Adamsville (6-0, 3-0) and Marion County (6-1, 4-0) remained one and two in the poll respectively.
Tigers roll early
The high flying Purple Tigers came out of the gate in an impressive fashion, leading 21-7 with 9:30 remaining in the first half on touchdowns runs by Ty Love and Seth Price and on a 36-yard touchdown strike from Seth Price to Jenson White.
Forrest had tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter when they put together a six minute, twenty-two second drive that culminated with a Nick McClendon six-yard TD scamper.
After Watertown went up 14-7, Forrest suffered its only turnover of the game when Layton Bennett was intercepted by Brandon Allison and the error turned into the Purple Tigers' third TD of the night.
Undaunted, Forrest struck quickly when senior Jacob Jones took the handoff on the first play after the Watertown kickoff and raced 76 yards for a touchdown with 9:14 remaining in the first half.
Jones came up big on defense when Watertown got the ball back, sacking Seth Price on a third-and-five, forcing a Purple Tiger punt that turned out poorly with Forrest taking over on the visitor's 36-yard line.
Facing a third-and-seven, Bennett took off on a quarterback keeper for a first down and on the next snap, Slayton Wild rumbled into the end zone for a touchdown, tying the game at 21 with 5:52 left in the first half.
Watertown put together a decent drive on its next series before the Forrest defense bowed up and took over on downs at their own 34-yard line.
The Purple Tigers returned the favor, forcing a Forrest punt with 51 seconds remaining in the first half, but the ensuing kick was fumbled and the Rockets deep moved into field goal position, but Javier Rios' kick was no good and the half ended with the two teams tied at 21.
Watertown went three-and-out on its next two series and after Forrest failed to score on its first drive of the second half, things looked bleak for the offense again as they faced a second-and-eighteen from their own 42-yard line when Bennett dropped back to pass and found senior Luke Cunningham on the Forrest sideline.
Bennett's pass was tipped once and hauled in on the run by Cunningham on a circus catch for a touchdown that ignited the Forrest faithful with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter.
"He (Cunningham) has made those crazy catches in practice, so we knew had the ability," Johns said.
Didn't give up
Watertown has played superb ball all season and they were not ready to give up, mustering up a seven-play drive that ended on a Seth Price 44-yard touchdown pass to Heath Price, tying the game at 28 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
Forrest had the ball at the Watertown 26-yard line entering the fourth quarter and after being forced into a fourth down situation at the 21, Rios missed his second field goal try of the night with 10:48 remaining in the contest.
The Forrest defense came up with its most clutch series of the season on Watertown's next drive when senior linebacker Billy Clanton sacked Seth Price to force a punt with just over seven minutes to play.
"We showed them who the boss was," Clanton said. "We have been working all week and it showed on that last drive when we executed perfectly."
Seth Price, who is also the Watertown punter, pinned the Rockets deep in their own territory, all the way back at Forrest seven-yard line.
The ball carriers in order during the game winning drive were Jones, McClendon, Wild, Wild, Jones, Wild, Bennett, Wild, Wild, Troy Turner, Turner, Wild, McClendon, McClendon, Turner, and Jones for the score, leaving just 28 seconds on the clock.
"Coming into the fourth quarter, we had had the most physical and conditioned team and that paid off," Jones said. "Everybody got a piece of that last drive, it was physical and smash mouth football and it was one for the ages."
Twenty-eight seconds was not enough time as the Rockets survived and host East Robertson (2-4, 1-2) at Chapel Hill Friday night with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
Watertown 7 14 7 0-28
Forrest 7 14 7 7-35
Watertown-Seth Price 11 run, Nathaniel Gutierrez PAT, 9:00
Forrest-Nick McClendon 10 run, Javier Rios PAT, 2:38
Watertown-Ty Love 4 run, Gutierrez PAT, 11:26
Watertown-Jenson White 36 pass from Seth Price, Gutierrez PAT, 9:30
Forrest-Jacob Jones 76 run, Rios PAT, 9:14
Forrest-Slayton Wild 26 run, Rios PAT, 5:52
Forrest-Luke Cunningham 58 pass from Layton Bennett, Rios PAT, 6:53
Watertown-Heath Price 44 pass from Seth Price, Gutierrez PAT, 4:38
Forrest-Jones 8 run, Rios PAT, 0:28
Total Offense-Forrest 428, Watertown 337
Passing-Watertown 263, Forrest 97
Rushing-Forrest 331, Watertown 74
First Downs-Forrest 16, Watertown 16
Turnovers-Watertown 1, Forrest 1
Penalties-Forrest 5-45, Watertown 2-15
Passing-Layton Bennett 4-12-97-TD-INT
Receiving-Luke Cunningham 1-58-TD, Nick McClendon 1-28, Jonathan Lykins 1-9, Anthony Kritz 1-2
Rushing-Jacob Jones 12-118-2TD, Slayton Wild 12-94-TD, Nick McClendon 14-57-TD, Layton Bennett 4-31, Troy Turner 6-29, Wesley McCoy 1-2, Parker Stuard 1-1, Scrappy Osborne 1-0, Dylan Pendley 1-(-1)
Tackles-Billy Clanton 8, Michael Dyer 5, Dylan Pendley 5, Josh Hill 4, Bryton Spitzley 3, Slayton Wild 3, Jacob Jones 2, Jonathan Lykins 2, Wesley McCoy 2, Blaize Sweeney 2, Nathan Trout 2, Austin Geeting 1, Troy Turner 1, Luke Cunningham 1, Nick McClendon 1
Sacks-Billy Clanton 1, Jacob Jones 1
Fumble Recovery-Garrett Nevison
Field Goals-Javier Rios 0-2
PAT-Javier Rios 5-5
Punting-Jacob Jones 3-102
Kickoffs-Nick McClendon 1-17, Bryton Spitzley 2-11, Billy Clanton 1-9, Slayton Wild 1-9