Rockets run over Vikings, clinch playoff spot
It was old-fashioned football played on a cold, misty Friday at the Murrey E. Holton Memorial Field in Chapel Hill as Forrest jumped out to a big senior night lead and finished the job in a 48-22 win over Community that clinched a playoff spot for the Rockets.
“The kids came out tonight and fought hard all night long,” Stephenson said. “On offense we got the ball moving because the line controlled up front and the backs hit the holes.”
“And our defense did a great job of coming out and flying to the ball.”
Forrest’s Nick McClendon turned out to be quite the ‘mudder’ as the junior tailback toted the rock 15 times for 287 yards and four touchdowns versus Community.
McClendon came within 24 yards of breaking the single game rushing record set by his brother Zach McClendon on September 12, 2014 versus Cornersville when he rushed for 311 yards.
“The trap was open all night long for us,” Stephenson said. “The line did a great job and Nick did a great job of seeing the hole and then hitting second gear.”
The Rockets won the all-important turnover battle versus the Vikings as they recovered two fumbles and added a Cole Villazon interception, while losing the ball just once.
“The one thing we preached before we came out tonight was ball security,” Stephenson said. “Ball security is mental and our kids did a great job of holding on to the ball.”
The rivalry game was also loaded with chippy play as Community was whistled for six personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including an ejection and the Rockets had three personal fouls.
Both teams punted the ball away on their first possession of the game before the Rockets broke through, marching 70 yards on eight plays with McClendon scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run. Dalton Colvin, who went 4-for-6 on the night on extra point kicks, booted the PAT for a 7-0 Forrest lead with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Rockets, who firstly denied Community’s second drive of the game on a third down stop before scoring again on a 59-yard drive that was capped off by senior Jacob Wright’s first career score on a six-yard touchdown run.
The Rockets’ defense forced another punt and this time Forrest needed just four plays to find pay dirt with McClendon scoring from three yards out. The two-point try was no good and the Rockets led 19-0 with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Community went three-and-out and were forced to punt again, but the Rockets muffed the kick and Vikings fell on the ball at the Forrest 34-yard line.
A personal foul on the special teams play gave Community great field position, but on the next snap they coughed up the rock and McClendon recovered.
McClendon ripped off a nice first down run before Forrest quarterback Josh Meglis found tight end Noah Hill on a big 54-yard pass play down to the Vikings’ 17-yard line.
Wes McCoy ran it in from there, but Colvin missed the extra point to make it a 25-0 contest.
Community went three-and-out before the first half ended with the Rockets in front by 25 points.
Luke Murrill gave the Vikings some life on their first possession of the second half when he busted a 57-yard touchdown run and CJ Rivera added the 2-point conversion to make it 25-8 with 8:20 remaining in the third period.
The Vikings went for the onside kick, but Alex Patmore recovered and two plays later, McClendon took it to the house from 47 yards out. Colvin added the PAT boot and the Rockets led 32-8.
The Vikings marched down the field again to the Forrest 18-yard line before Villazon came up with a big interception with 4:02 remaining in the third quarter.
A block in the back penalty on the return backed the Rockets up to the 10-yard yard line where Joseph Whitaker picked up three yards on first down and McClendon picked up 87 more for the score on second down. Colvin’s PAT kick was true and the Rockets were in control at 39-8 with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter.
The Rockets defense was stoked and held the Vikings in check to force a punt that turned into disaster for the Vikings as they botched the snap and Joel Burton tackled the Community punter in the end zone for a safety to make it a 42-8 contest.
Community managed two fourth quarter touchdown passes by Landon Langley to Murrill as their season ended and the Rockets’ second season began as the improved to 12-0 all-time versus Community.
“Our seniors came out and played hard, they all did great and I’m very proud of them,” Stephenson said.
Chapel Hill (5-5, 3-3) travels Friday night to take on the Region 6-2A champion Waverley Tigers (7-3, 5-0), who blasted the Rockets 63-36 last year in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs.
“It’s a new season for us, we just have to come out and play our game,” Stephenson said. “We have gotten better from week to week and I’m proud of this team because they have been working hard, and from week one to now, we are a better team. So we just have to see what is going to happen.”
Community 0 0 8 14-22
Forrest 7 18 16 7-48
Forrest-Nick McClendon 11-yard run, Dalton Colvin PAT, 1:02.
Forrest-Jacob Wright 6-yard run, Colvin PAT NG, 8:30.
Forrest-Nick McClendon 3-yard run, Colvin PAT NG, 5:30.
Forrest-Wes McCoy 18-yard run, PAT NG, 2:14.
Community-Luke Murrill 57-yard run, CJ Rivera 2-pt run, 8:20.
Forrest-Nick McClendon 42-yard run, Colvin PAT, 7:32.
Forrest-Nick McClendon 87-yard run, Colvin PAT, 3:07.
Forrest-Joel Burton safety, 1:51.
Community-Luke Murrill 19-yard pass from Landon Langley, PAT NG, 5:56
Community-Luke Murrill 50-yard pass from Landon Langley, Zach Dabbs pass from Langley, 5:30.
Forrest-Cody Sisk 24-yard run, Colvin PAT, 2:43.
Total Yards: Community 204, Forrest 511.
Rushing: Community 124, Forrest 435.
Passing: Community 80, Forrest 76.
Penalties: Community 11-89, Forrest 7-89.
Turnovers: Community 3, Forrest 1.
Rushing: Nick McClendon 15-287-4TD, Wes McCoy 3-39-TD, Cody Sisk 3-34-TD, Joseph Whitaker 5-27, Jacob Wright 5-22-TD, Blaize Sweeney 2-17, Cason Warner 8-14, Josh Meglis 3-6, Hunter Pendley 3-(-11).
Passing: Josh Meglis 3-8-76, Max Kirby 0-1-0.
Receiving: Noah Hill 1-54, Spencer McCown 1-13, Jeff Gross 1-9.
PAT: Dalton Colvin 4-6.
Kickoffs: Cole Villazon 1-22.
Punts: Jeff Gross 1-0-FC, Cole Villazon 3-(-9)-FC.
Tackles: Noah Hill 6, Pryor Haines 5, Jayme Ozburn 5, Blaize Sweeney 4, Tate Garvin 3, Jeff Gross 3, Sammy Williams 3, Joel Burton 2 (Safety), Cannon Cervantes 2, Kody Patin 2, Brayden Jones 1, Justin Leonard 1, Nick McClendon 1 (FUM REC), Cody Sisk 1, Layne Strasser 1, Jacob Wright 2, Cason Warner 1, Joseph Whittaker 1, Cole Villazon (INT, FUM REC).