Defense, run game sparks Forrest on opening night

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The Forrest Rockets used a stingy defense, a power running game, and some great special teams’ work that resulted in a hard fought 14-0 win in Friday night’s season opener at Eagleville. 

It was fourth straight win for the Rockets over the Eagles and only the second shutout in the series, dating back to 2003. 

“It was not pretty, but our kids kept fighting and got the job done at the end and got a big win over one of our rivals,” Forrest coach Eli Stephenson said. “It wasn’t pretty and we have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.”  

Forrest also notched a road blanking over the Eagles by the same score in 2007. 

The Rockets’ defense gave up a measly 80 yards to an Eagleville offense that was without its best weapon in senior quarterback Marcus Collins, who was out due to illness. 

Dominant ‘D’ 

The Chapel Hill defense was dominant as Eagleville had 10 offensive series in the game and went three-and-out seven times, including the first three times they touched the rock. 

“I’m really proud of our defense, they came out and got a big goose egg,” Stephenson said. “When you can shut somebody out it makes the offense’s job a lot easier.” 

Eagleville only had two first downs in the contest and never crossed the midfield stripe. 

The Forrest offense did what they had to do and could have scored more than 14 points, but they had three turnovers that stalled some drives. 

“We didn’t meet our goal on that (turnovers),” Stephenson said. “We are going to have to focus a lot more on protecting the ball.” 

On the gas 

What they did do was score on their first offensive play of the game as junior tailback Brenton Burchell waited all spring and summer for his moment and when it happened he took full advantage, taking the handoff and sprinting to the outside where he outran the entire Eagleville secondary down the visitor’s sideline for a 75-yard touchdown.  

“That was pretty good, that was really sweet,” Stephenson said. “We ran our bread and butter play and gotta big touchdown and that gave us a little momentum, but we let up a little bit after that, so you have to put the gas on them there and finish.”  

“That play was awesome,” Burchell said. “They sealed in and I saw the opening and just had to outrun them, it was all gas no breaks and I have to thank my line for that one.” 

Gavin Grissom booted the first of his two successful extra-point kicks and the Rockets led 7-0 nineteen seconds in to the game.  

Big calls 

The Eagleville defense was stout as well and held the Rockets in check with two first half fumble recoveries and a big offensive pass interference call down in the red zone that killed the Rockets’ final drive of the first half. 

Liam Bell came up with a fumble recovery to derail Eagleville’s second half opening drive, but the Rockets couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and had to punt. 

Eagleville went three-and-out in its next series and an interception gave them the ball right back with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter. 

The Rockets stopped them on three plays and finally got something going on its next series when Burchell came up with a third down run for a first down and 15 more yards were tacked on due a facemask penalty on the Eagles, moving the ball all the way to Eagleville 25-yard line. 

Insurance from Swift, Bell sounds sweet for Rockets 

Three Bell runs produced another first down and on the next play, Tayton Swift took the handoff and ran to the end zone as the Rockets led 14-0 with 3.4 seconds left in the third quarter. 

“That man (Bell) is a beast, he is a sophomore this year and he is bigger than any sophomore I’ve ever seen, he can run the ball,” both Swift and Burchell added. “He just doesn’t give up, nobody can take him down, that’s why we kept giving it to him and he was jutting getting it and getting it and getting it.”   

Eagleville had the ball two more times in the fourth quarter and managed just one first down while the Rockets pounded the rock the rest of the game with Bell doing most of the dirty work in running out the clock for the win. 

“We knew they were wore down and we went right at them in the second half with straight dive iso and some sweeps and it turned out well for us,” Stephenson said. “Our kids blocked up right on both sides and got the job done.”   

Burchell led the rushing attack with seven carries for 84 yards, Bell toted the rock 15 times for 80 yards, Swift had 46 yards on 14 carries, Chris Davis ran the ball five times for 30 yards, McCalister Wilson had two carries for five yards, and quarterback Hunter Bennett had four yards on two touches. 

Bennett had two completions in the game, throwing for 11 yards to Christian Hammond and two yards to Burchell out of the backfield. 

Hammond had a huge punting night with three kicks for 126 yards and nice 42-yard average. 

Brody McLemore led the Eagles with 36 yards on 12 carries. 

Things don’t get any easier for the Rockets this week as the host the Cornersville Bulldogs at the Murrey E. Holton Memorial Field in Chapel Hill for the latest installment of the Battle of the North and South. 

“I’m glad we are 1-0 and we will enjoy this tonight, but we will get after it and get ready for Cornersville next week,” Stephenson said. “I know they are looking forward to it and I know we are looking forward to it too, so I’m just ready for a big crowd when we renew the rivalry in the Battle of the North and South.”   

The Bulldogs blasted Richland 31-7 in its season opener Thursday night at a soggy Frog Bottom. 

“It going to be awesome, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be electric playing a home game at The Rock,” Burchell said.   

 

Forrest 7 0 7 0 — 14 

Eagleville 0 0 0 0 — 0 

 

First Quarter 

Forrest: Brenton Burchell 75-yard run, Gavin Grissom kick, 11:41. 

Third Quarter 

Forrest: Tayton Swift 12-yard run, Grissom kick, 0:07. 

 

Stats 

Total Yards: Forrest 262, Eagleville 80. 

Rushing: Forrest 249, Eagleville 49. 

Passing: Forrest 13, Eagleville 31. 

Turnovers: Forrest 3, Eagleville 1.  

Penalties: Forrest 6-40, Eagleville 7-50. 

Forrest 

Rushing: Brenton Burchell 7-84-TD, Liam Bell 15-80, Tayton Swift 14-46-TD, Chris Davis 5-30, McCalister Wilson 2-5, Hunter Bennett 2-4. 

Passing: Hunter Bennett 2-4-13-0-1INT. 

Receiving: Christian Hammond 1-11, Brenton Burchell 1-2. 

Punting: Christian Hammond 3-126-42.0 average. 

Eagleville 

Rushing: Brody McLemore 12-36, Erik Johnson 3-19, Jesse Brown 6-(-6). 

Passing: Jesse Brown 7-15-31-0-0. 

Receiving: Elijah Fearns 4-6, Noah Lily 2-16, Kaden Snitzer 1-9. 

Punting 

Marshall Spann 8-254-31.8 average. 

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