Game Summaries & Headlines.
Photo by Peter Cihelka - Free Lance Star
The fall season officially ended at Eagles Stadium on a Forge Friday when the Eagle football team fell in the Regional Final to the Manchester Lancers. Another Forge season ends with their only loss of the campaign and this one was a game that they will think about for a while.
Manchester came into the game as the second seed in the region and a perfect 12-0 record. The Eagles were the top seed and were unbeaten at 11-0. Something had to give in this one, and while the Forge defense held the powerful Manchester offense to 21 points, it was the offense who left some plays on the Eagles Stadium Bermuda that was the big story in this one.
The Forge D held Manchester to a 3 and out on their opening drive and things look promising as the Eagle offense went on an 6 play drive down to the Manchester 20, and had a 1st and goal at the 10 but that is where the Lancer defense stood tall. The Eagles gained 9 yards but would turn the ball over on downs when quarterback Madden Lowe seemed to fumble the snap on a 4th and goal at the one. The huddled masses along the visiting sidelines roared and Eagle Nation could not help but flash back to last season against Oscar Smith when they were inside the five in the State Semi-final and failed to score.
Again, the Eagles defense was not phased and held Notre Dame commit Brendon Clarke to another three, out, and forced punter Jake Lero to punt from deep in his end zone. The punt was shanked off the side of his foot and the Eagles seemed to be in business on the Manchester 28-yard line. The GREEN failed to capitalize on the primo field position calling four pass plays that all fell incomplete and the Lancers took over on downs.
Clark drove his troops 72 yards in seven snaps for the game’s first score as he handed the rock to running back R.J. McNeal from seven yards away with 1:49 left in the first quarter. Lero tacked on the point after and the Lancers led 7-0.
On the second Forge possession of the second quarter, the “good guys” drove the ball back down into the Red Zone and had a first down at the Lancer 10 yard line when Lowe hit wide receiver Elijah Sarratt with a pass down at the 3-yard line giving the Forge another first and goal. Three plays later Lowe was picked off in the end zone by the Lancers Kwame Dehaney and the Eagles had another scoring opportunity blow up in their faces.
The opportunities the Eagles were leaving on the field were picked up and cashed in by the talented Manchester offense. The Lancers took that pick and drove down the field 95 yards in just a half dozen plays and it ended on a 17 yard touchdown pass from Clarke to Colin Harding with 5:24 left in the first half to put the Lancers on top at the half 14-0.
Starting the second half, the Eagles had to know down two scores; those miscues inside the red zone were the difference. The GREEN continued to shoot themselves in the foot on their first drive of the second half, turning the ball over and giving the Lancers at the Forge 44 yard line.
Manchester drove down to the Eagles six-yard line and the Forge defense made a stand. The Lancers called on Lero to kick a 23-yard field goal that found the Talon of Josh Sarratt who blocked it and Jordan Savoy recovered it at the Eagle 35 yard line.
The Forge offense kept running in place and just could not stay on the field on three consecutive possessions. Manchester got the ball back late in the third quarter and had a 1st and 10 at their own 35 when McNeil got away on a scamper inside the red zone. On the same play, the Eagles were called for roughing the passer and that moved the ball down to the Forge 13 yard line and a 1st down for the Lancers. On the next play, Clark hit Val West in the end zone for a score with 33.4 seconds left in the third. Lero tacked on the point after and the regional was headed to winning time with the Eagles on the wrong end of a 21-0 score.
The Lancers first possession of the final stanza was stopped short when on third and seven from their own 32, Josh Sarratt who took the theft down to the 10-yard line picked off Clark, and the GREEN offense was knocking on the door again.
The Eagles finally cashed in three plays later when Lowe threw a dart to Paten Rodier who did the hokey pokey with the left sideline and the pilon for the Forge’s first score of the game. Phillip Lovelace came on to kick the extra point and it was 21-7 Manchester with 11:01 left in the game.
The Eagles only saw the ball once more in the quarter as the Lancer offense went into the ground and pound mode, running off yardage and precious time off the clock and there was nothing the Eagles could do to stop them.
The Lancers had broken the two game skid to the Eagles and more importantly had captured the 6B Region Championship trophy. They will now face the Ocean Lakes Dolphins next Saturday at 2pm on the road, for a chance to play in the State Title game.
The Forge complete an impressive season with an 11-1 mark, and a second consecutive Commonwealth District Championship. The Eagles have a record of 43-7 over the last 4 seasons, and will now after a short break, go back to work and try to capture the programs first state title in program history.