The Forrest Rockets travelled to Jasper Friday night riding a three-game winning streak and a boatload worth of confidence in an attempt to break a 0-4 losing record versus Marion County, but the Warriors had other ideas as they ran away with a lopsided 42-15 win.
I believe you have to play tough competition to get better,” Forrest coach Eli Stephenson said. “They showed us what we have to work on. I know our players will learn from the mistakes and get better for Cascade and the rest of the season.”
Forrest faced an uphill battle the entire contest as they fell behind 21-0 early in the second quarter before getting on the board via a Gavin Grissom 20-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining in the first half.
“We were able to get an offensive drive going in the second quarter and get a field goal,” Stephenson said. “That gave us a little momentum, but Marion County got a score before half to gain the momentum back and got in up by three scores.”
Marion County quarterback Taye Hutchins scored on a 60-yard run early in the third quarter to put the Rockets in a deep hole at 28-3 and then hooked up with Mason Keel on a 13-yard touchdown pass to seal the win for the sixth-ranked Warriors (4-0).
“We got the ball to start the second half and they held us to a three-and-out,” Stephenson said. “Our offense has to get the ball moving and gain first downs.”
“With first downs we get in rhythm and Marion County kept us from getting a rhythm. That is on me. I got to find a way to move the ball and score.”
Hutchins was a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries while going 3-for-6 for 100 yards in the air and two touchdown passes.
“Marion County played better than us,” Stephenson said. “They blocked and tackled better than us. We got to work on finishing blocks and tackles.”
The Warriors outgained Forrest 421-to-207 with both of the Rockets’ touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter on a Hunter Bennett 54-yard touchdown run and a Liam Bell 1-yard touchdown blast.
“Marion County is a good football team,” Stephenson said. “They will make a deep run in the playoffs in 2A. They are fast and physical and they blocked and tackled better than us.”
Forrest (4-2, 2-0) continues its three-game road swing this week when they travel to longtime rival Cascade for a huge Region 5-AA contest versus the undefeated Champions (6-0, 2-0).
The two teams (tied for ninth in the AP Poll) have played 20 times since 2001 and the series is deadlocked at 10-10 with Forrest losing 17-14 at home last season prior to winning five in a row over Cascade.
What stands out in that 20-game span is both teams do not do a good job of protecting their respective home fields, indicated by identical 4-6 losing records at home.
This will also be the first region contest between the two squads since 2015.
“It's a huge region game for both of us,” Stephenson said. “The winner of this game is in the driver’s seat to win the region.”
“We have to learn from our mistakes against Marion County and we have to work on getting better.”
Cascade has not started a season at 6-0 since the 2008 campaign when they won 11 straight games before losing 22-0 to Jo Byrns in the Class A state quarterfinals.
Forrest 0 3 0 12-15
Marion Co. 14 7 14 7-42
Marion County-Rylee Rogers 31 pass from Taye Hutchins, Dillon Fulfer kick, 5:07.
Marion County-Rogers 22 run, Fulfer kick, 1:28.
Marion County-Hutchins 26 run, Fulfer kick, 4:25.
Forrest-Gavin Grissom 20-yard field goal, 0:28.
Marion County-Hutchins 60 run, Fulfer kick, 9:38.
Marion County-Mason Keel 13 pass from Hutchins, Fulfer kick, 3:20.
Marion County-Alex Condra 8 run, Fulfer kick, 5:59.
Forrest-Hunter Bennett 54 run, 2-pt try NG, 2:34.
Forrest-Liam Bell 1 run, 2-pt try NG, 1:47.
Total Yards-Forrest 207, Marion County 421.
Rushing-Forrest 175, Marion County 321.
Passing-Forrest 32, Marion County 100.
First Downs-Forrest 10, Marion County 14.
Turnovers-Forrest 1, Marion County 0.
Penalties-Forrest 3-35, Marion County 6-55.
Forrest-Liam Bell 12-64-TD, Tayton Swift 14-38, Hunter Bennett 3-42-TD, Chris Davis 6-21, McCalister Wilson 3-11, Brenton Burchell 3-(-1).
Marion County-Taye Hutchins 9-157-2TD, Rylee Rogers 5-49-TD, Sam Pickett 9-43, Alex Condra 8-37-TD, Ben Royal 1-22, Mason Keel 2-9, Taylor Scharber 2-7, Brayden Abney 1-(-3).
Forrest-Hunter Bennett 1-8-32-0-INT.
Marion County-Taye Hutchins 3-6-100-2TD-0.
Forrest-Tayton Swift 1-32.
Marion County-Mason Keel 2-66-TD, Rylee Rogers 1-34-TD.