Game Summaries & Headlines.
The Colonial Forge Football team is steam rolling into the regional final next week after Friday night’s 42-7 win over the Franklin County Eagles at Eagles Stadium North (Mountain View High School). The top ranked Eagles fumbled on the third play of the game but after that controlled EVERYTHING but the concession lines in advancing to the final next week against either Thomas Dale or Manchester at home.
After the Eagle miscue, Franklin County looked like it was ready to take the lead as they drove down the field inside the red zone. The Forge defense stood tall and appeared to have stopped their guests with a sack of Franklin County quarterback Shane Grindstaff on a 4th and 16. The “good guys” were flagged for a facemask and Franklin County had a 4th and 2 from the Forge 15 but could not take advantage being called for a false start on the next play. The Forge dodged the bullet when Franklin County place kicker Erick Castaneda’s 37-yard field goal was wide left.
Penalties and incomplete passes were what stopped the Forge on their next series, and again Franklin County could not capitalize as a couple of dropped passes on their series thwarted them and they had to punt the ball back to the Forge.
The Forge offense did not waste any time as they showed the huddled up fans in the bleachers that they were about to kick it up a notch. They had a 1st and 10 at their own 44-yard line, they went to Ernesto Bowen carrying the rock, and when the play ended, he was celebrating in the end zone after a 56-yard scamper to pay dirt. Phillip Lovelace tacked on the extra point and the Forge was on the board 7-0 with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
Franklin County on their next possession continued to be swarmed by the Forge defense and even fumbled and were lucky to retain possession. After an incomplete pass from Grindstaff to Jayron Smith, they had to punt the ball back to Colonial Forge. The home team could not move the ball, on a 3rd and 11 from their own 46, Lowe was intercepted, and Franklin County had another shot. Another shot that they would not take as they went three and out and the visitors called on punter Josh Luckett to pin the Forge deep in their own territory.
The Forge offense again was tired of the miscues and this time they clicked. They went 96 yards in 10 plays that was cashed in when Lowe threw a dart to Paten Rodier in the end zone and the Eagles had a 2 score lead with 8:32 left in the first half.
On Franklin County’s next possession, they ran on first and second down and on third down Grindstaff found the waiting arms of Josh Sarratt who picked it off and returned it to the Franklin County 34 yard line. The next play, Lowe found Rodier again for an Eagles touchdown. The point after by John Shaner hit the left upright and fell back to the turf but the Forge had a 20-0 lead with 5:06 left in the first half.
While the Forge defense continued to stand tall, the offense had one more bullet in the holster before the break. The “good guys” scored again going 58 yards in 4 plays, starting with a run up the middle by Bowen and two pass completions from Lowe to Elijah Sarratt to give the Forge a 1st and goal at the 3. Bowen would do the rest with 3:01 left in the half running the final 3 yards to increase their lead. Coach John Brown decided to go for two and the Lowe to Rodier combo was magic again and the Forge took a 28-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Eagles of Franklin County came out of the locker room for the second half just trying to stay in this contest. On their second series they cut into the Forge lead going 83 yards in a half dozen snaps, benefiting from a pass interference penalty on the “good guys” that took the ball out near midfield. On the next play, running back Jayron Smith carried the mail 53 yards for the first Franklin County score of the game. Castaneda tacked on the point after and the Forge led 28-7 with 4:47 left in the third quarter.
The score did not shake the Forge; they strapped it up and responded on the next series. The home team went 48 yards in 10 plays that ended with a Lowe to Elijah Sarratt connection on a beautiful fade right in the left corner of the end zone for another score. Lovelace drilled the point after and with just 1:11 left in the third quarter and the Eagles held a 35-7 heading into “winning time”.
On the Forge’s first possession of the final frame, they went 55 yards in just four plays and the last play is the one that a Franklin County defender will remember for a while. The Forge controlled the ball on the ground, eating up yardage and burning clock as backup quarterback Noel Innocent made his appearance under center. Innocent drove his offense down to the Franklin County 15 yard line and on 1st and 10, handed the rock to Jamal Thomas. Thomas took a casual stroll around the right side with bodies flying all over the field trying to keep him contained. The shifty junior went untouched into the end zone, but that was not the memorable part of the play. Junior Max Kauthen cleared the path for Thomas at the end with a beautiful bone-crushing block. The defender probably thought it was Tuesday at the end of the play and was sure to be hearing phones ringing as he boarded the bus for the ride home. The Forge had a 42-7 lead with 10:02 left in the game and could start to make plans to host another regional final at home next week.
The Forge will have to wait until Saturday night to find out who their next opponent is as Manchester will host Thomas Dale in a match up that will decide which team gets the next assignment of trying to stop the states number 1 team on Thanksgiving weekend.
Whichever team comes to Stafford next week, the game will be played on Friday at Eagles Stadium with a berth in the state semifinal on the line. Follow forgeathletics on Twitter or log on to “America’s Best Web Site” to find out the opponent and game information.