Three South Forsyth turnovers led to 20 first-half points for Chattahoochee as the Cougars rolled to a 34-0 victory at War Eagle Stadium.
The War Eagles (2-7, 2-7 Region 7-AAAA) moved the ball on the ground and had chances to hang with region first-place, GACA Coaches’ Poll No. 7 Hooch, but three Jantzen Jeffrey interceptions, a Hunter Beeghley fumble and two turnovers on downs kept South from scoring in its last home game of the year.
Two defensive scores from Hooch safety Conner Winn, a 99-yard drive by the Cougars offense and a pair of plays that encompassed most of the field allowed Chattahoochee (8-1, 8-1) to earn its 24th win in 25 games dating back to last season’s state championship campaign.
Jeff Arnette said the game epitomized his team’s rough season.
“It’s weird,” the War Eagles’ second-year head coach said. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and never have I been this proud of a team that’s 2-7.”
A heavy underdog coming in, South rushed for 198 yards — Beeghley accounted for most of them with 132 yards on 24 carries — and had opportunities to seize momentum.
After the War Eagles defense recovered a fumble on Hooch’s first drive, Beeghley came up inches short of the goal line on fourth down. Chattahoochee then drove 99 yards in eight plays, capped by running back C.J. Leggett’s 17-yard touchdown run.
Trailing 21-0 late in the second quarter, Jeffrey (6-for-11, 50 yards passing) underthrew receiver Sam Walker in the end zone, and cornerback Trey Hart secured the ball for Hooch at the 1-yard line.
Running back Chase Nelson went 95 yards untouched off left tackle two plays later to give the Cougars a 27-0 lead with 23.5 seconds left in the half.
Sandwiched in between Nelson and Leggett’s touchdown runs were a 78-yard pass from Travis Marshall to Marcus Sayles and a 60-yard fumble return by Winn.
South started the second half on offense, but Winn intercepted Jeffrey after the quarterback was hit while throwing and returned it 33 yards for Hooch’s final points.
A 15-play War Eagles drive ate up the next six minutes of the third quarter and moved South to Hooch’s 16-yard line, but Jeffrey threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.
“It doesn’t hit you until you walk off that field for the last time,” said Beeghley, one of 18 seniors honored. “This is really tough.”
Check back Friday evening for updates, scores and recaps from the rest of this week's Forsyth County football action. For an in-depth look at South's loss and Friday's games, pick up a copy of Sunday's Forsyth County News. Follow sports writer Phil Ervin on Twitter @PhilErvin_FCN for all the latest county sports news.