Forrest tames Mustangs, stays in playoff hunt
The Forrest Rockets showed some meddle Friday night as they travelled to Loretto for a Region 5-AA contest and handily beat the Mustangs 32-13 on homecoming to break a three-game losing and remain in the playoff hunt.
“We came out and played our style of football,” Forrest coach Eli Stephenson said. “We came out and forced turnovers and limited penalties and that is what I am most proud of tonight.”
“They came here focused and played from the first whistle to the last whistle, so I’m very proud of them tonight.”
Forrest (3-5, 2-3) needs a win versus Community in the regular season finale and a loss by the Mustangs in one of their three remaining region games to clinch a spot in the postseason.
“We are still alive for the playoffs and that’s the most important thing,” Stephenson said. “Our team stepped up, it was a must win and the team got the win.”
Loretto (3-4, 1-2) hosts Community (1-6, 0-3) this week before finishing the regular season with back-to-back road games versus Eagleville (5-2, 2-1) and Columbia Academy (6-1, 3-0).
The Rockets have a bye this week before concluding the regular season with home games versus Cascade (3-4, 1-2) and Community.
“That (Cascade) has been a rivalry here for a long time, so we have to come out ready and answer the call.” Stephenson said.
Forrest’s formula for success at Loretto was simple, they played ball control as they rushed for 290 yards in the contest and won the all-important turnover battle 4-1, including a big fumble recovery to spoil the Mustangs’ opening drive of the game when Blaize Sweeney jumped on a loose ball.
“Its playoff season now,” Sweeney said. “We knew we had to come in and shut them down and get this win tonight.”
“This means we are back and we are going to do the best we can 110 percent all week.”
The Rockets cashed in quickly, driving 58 yards on five consecutive running plays that was capped off by a Nick McClendon 8-yard burst to the end zone. Jacob Wright added the 2-point conversion run to make it 8-0 with 5:18 remaining in the opening quarter.
Forrest stuffed Loretto to force a three-and-out, but had to punt after failing to move the ball on the ensuing possession.
The Mustangs went back on offense and drove the ball to the Forrest 39-yard line before coughing up the pigskin that was recovered by Noah Hill with 8:28 remaining in the first half.
The Rockets fumbled the ball right back on their lone turnover of the game.
Loretto began to move the ball, driving inside Forrest territory before Cole Villazon came up with an interception with 4:54 left in the first half.
“The defense did really well, we played good and we have been waiting for that all year,” Villazon said. “We had a pick and some fumble recoveries and that’s what wins ballgames.”
The Rockets could not capitalize and had to punt the ball back to the Mustangs, who drove to the Forrest 26-yard line where they attempted a field goal by Andy Juarez that was no good with 19 ticks remaining in the first half.
“We were able to get some breaks and get some turnovers tonight,” Stephenson said. “When we get turnovers, we have to come down and get a score. That’s the main thing, we have to work on finishing drives after we get turnovers. ”
Wes McCoy came up with a nice kickoff return to open the second half for the Rockets and five running plays later, McClendon scored from 23 yards out and Dalton Colvin kicked the extra point to make it 15-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the third period.
“Coming out and getting that drive there in the third quarter was big momentum,” Stephenson said. “I’m very proud of the offense, they came out blocking hard and running hard.”
The Rockets’ defense was up to the task again as Sammy Williams came up with a huge sack to force a Loretto punt that was returned by Villazon to the Loretto 37-yard line.
A Joseph Williams first down rush was followed by a big gain by McClendon to the Loretto 3-yard line.
Josh Meglis scored on a quarterback keeper on the next snap and Colvin added the PAT boot to give the Rockets a 22-0 lead with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Loretto started its next drive on their own 29-yard line and drove the ball all the way inside the Forrest 5-yard before they were stuffed by Sweeney on a fourth-down play with 2:40 left in the third period.
The Rockets ran three plays before punting the ball back to Loretto, who finally got on the board when Avery Rose scored on a 41-yard run from the Wildcat position on the first play after the Forrest punt. Juarez made the PAT kick and Forrest’s lead was cut to 22-7 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
The determined Rockets responded as they continued to pound the ball and it paid off as McCoy scored on a 36-yard run with 8:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“That’s all to our offensive line, they made holes and we hit them, they did their job and we did ours,” Sweeney said about the young Rockets’ offensive line. “They are starting to get their experience now and are getting better.”
Colvin made the extra point kick to make it 29-7 and three plays into the ensuing Loretto possession, McClendon recovered a Mustang fumble at the 31-yard line.
Forrest burned almost five minutes off the clock before Dalton booted his first field goal of the season from 30-yards to put the game away with 1:55 left.
Loretto scored a garbage touchdown on the last play of the game for the 32-13 final.
Forrest 8 0 14 10-32
Loretto 0 0 7 6-13
Forrest-Nick McClendon 8-yard run, Jacob Wright 2-pt. run, 5:18.
Forrest-Nick McClendon 23-yard run, Dalton Colvin PAT, 10:00.
Forrest-Josh Meglis 3-yard run, Dalton Colvin PAT, 6:27.
Loretto-Avery Rose 41-yard run, Andy Juarez PAT, 0:37.
Forrest-Wes McCoy 36-yard run, Dalton Colvin PAT, 8:38.
Forrest-Dalton Colvin 30-yard FG, 1:55.
Loretto-Andrew Beard 15-yard pass from Avery Rose, 0:00.
Total Yards: Forrest 290, Loretto 282.
Rushing: Forrest 285, Loretto 148.
Passing: Forrest 5, Loretto 134.
Turnovers: Forrest 1, Loretto 4.
Penalties: Forrest 6-47, Loretto 8-65.
Rushing: Nick McClendon 10-112-2TD, Wes McCoy 6-63-TD, Joseph Whitaker 11-53, Blaize Sweeney 4-42, Jacob Wright 4-16, Cason Warner 1-0, Josh Meglis 2-(-1).
Passing: Josh Meglis 1-4-5.
Receiving: Spencer McCown 1-5.
PAT: Dalton Colvin 3-3.
Field Goals: Dalton Colvin 1-1-30.
Punting: Wes McCoy 3-98.
Kickoffs: Wes McCoy 1-24.
Punts: Cole Villazon 1-7.
Tackles: Blaize Sweeney 6 (FUM REC), Noah Hill 5 (FUM REC), Pryor Haines 5, Sammy Williams 5 (SACK), Nick McClendon 3 (FUM REC), Jeff Gross 3, Max Kirby 3, Kody Patin 3, Cole Geeting 2, Dowlen Hosford 2, Wes McCoy 2, Cole Villazon 2 (INT), Dalton Colvin 1, Spencer McCown 1, Alex Patmore 1.