MILTON — West Forsyth’s opportunistic defense shut down Milton, and Jake Wieczorek scored three touchdowns in a 21-6 Wolverine victory.
Barring a three-way tie in the final Region 6-AAAAA standings, West (8-1, 4-1 region) earned its first ever home playoff game. The Wolverines wrapped up a postseason spot for the second year in a row.
“I credit the kids to a lot of film work this week,” West coach Frank Hepler said of his defense. “They did a good job of picking up on some of [Milton’s] keys they were giving us pre-snap.
“Getting the chance for a nine-win season and a home playoff game, that’s a big step for this program.”
West safety Trevor Guthrie and linebackers Josh Salo and Wes Rood each came up with a second-half interception.
Rood’s came with 6:13 left in the game following Wieczorek’s third score, effectively spoiling homecoming for an Eagles (2-6, 1-3) team with several major college prospects.
The Wolverines sacked quarterback Colin McElroy (7 for 13, 41 yards passing, TD, 3 INT) three times and held Milton to 143 yards of offense.
West churned out 282 — down from its usual total in yards this season — and quarterback A.J. Erdely (11 of 14 passing, 136 yards, 2 TD) found Wieczorek (56 yards on 9 carries, 4 catches for 60 yards) on touchdown passes of 19 and 26 yards.
Wieczorek also found the end zone on a 10-yard, end-around run off left tackle to give West a 14-6 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter.
A special teams miscue set up the Eagles’ only touchdown. West punter Graham Bunting handled an errant snap, which gave Milton’s Max Falcon time to rush Bunting and block the kick.
McElroy hit fullback Kyle LeStrange for a 4-yard touchdown pass moments later, but that was the last highlight for the Eagles.
West, which closes its regular season Friday at Roswell, matched its highest single-season win total since the school opened in 2007.
Lambert 24, Sequoyah 21
HOLLY SPRINGS — Lambert met one of its season's goals against Sequoyah by securing a trip to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
"The biggest thing is not making the playoffs the first time, but getting back," said Lambert head coach Sid Maxwell. “Everybody is gunning for us after last year. Hopefully that has made us a little tougher, and we can keep improving and moving forward."
The victory was far from guaranteed for Maxwell's Longhorns as they needed a fourth quarter drive to secure the 24-21 outcome.
For the Chiefs' offense, it was all about big plays as they managed just 22 yards on 2-of-12 passing but rushed for 298 yards with 219 yards coming on three runs.
Lambert totaled 370 yards. The Horns' longest play went for 39 yards.
The Longhorns (7-1, 7-1 Region 7-AAAA) will look to remain tied atop the region standings Friday at home against Rome.
Centennial 19, North 13
ROSWELL — North Forsyth and Centennial had something on the line.
The Raiders needed a victory to realistically remain in postseason contention. For the Knights, it was a win-and-you’re-in scenario for the playoffs.
Led by dominant special teams, the Knights held off the Raiders for a 19-13 victory.
After a close first half, the Raiders (1-7, 1-3 Region 6-AAAAA) couldn’t find an offensive rhythm during a second half in which one Centennial field goal accounted for the only points.
The Raiders finished with 139 yards of offense. They were led in rushing by Luke Slaton, who had 72 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Harris Roberts finished 7-for-15 with 58 yards passing.
“We’re young, we’re getting better, and they played hard tonight,” said North head coach Blair Armstrong of his Raiders, who travel to Milton on Friday.
Johns Creek 38, South 11
Standing on the outside of the playoff picture, South Forsyth played host to Johns Creek with a chance to impact the postseason race.
For most of the first half, the War Eagles seized the moment, trading big plays with the Region 7-AAAA co-leaders. But a lost fumble deep in Gladiators’ territory in the closing moments of the first half spelled the beginning of the end for South, which fell 38-11.
“We’re a team that hasn’t won a lot of ballgames, but we keep fighting,” said South head coach Jeff Arnette. “And that’s all I can ask of them right now, to keep fighting.”
The War Eagles (2-6, 2-6) took the fight to the Gladiators in the opening two quarters, doing their part during a wild 2-minute, 50-second stretch in which the two teams combined to score 29 points.
The War Eagles finished with 252 yards of total offense, only 51 coming after halftime. Quarterback Jantzen finished 11-of-17 passing for 136 yards with one touchdown. Sam Walker caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.
South gets another chance to determine how things shake out at the top of the standings Thursday when it plays host to Chattahoochee.
Creekview 27, Central 17
CANTON — Three first half touchdown passes by Creekview were enough for the 27-17 win as it held off a second half surge from Forsyth Central at the Grizzly Den.
The Grizzlies scored all of their points in the first half.
While the Bulldogs weren’t able to come away with the win, Central head coach Chris Bennett was pleased with his team’s resilience in the second half.
“Not a pretty first half at all,” he said. “Too many mistakes, but a phenomenal second half.
“I am so proud of my kids. We challenged them at halftime and they responded.”
Quarterback Spencer Transue led the Bulldogs with 232 yards passing. Next up for Central is a home date Friday against Sequoyah.
Wesleyan 42, Pinecrest 14
Pinecrest Academy giveaways spotted Wesleyan an early lead, and the Wolves blew the game open to start the second half.
Wesleyan scored three touchdowns in the first 5:37 of the third quarter on the way to a 42-14 victory over the hapless Paladins. Pinecrest lost a fumble on its first possession, and quarterback Jimmy Strom threw an interception late in the first quarter.
The Wolves (6-2, 4-1 Region 5N-A) scored a touchdown off both turnovers before its third-quarter frenzy.
“They came out in the third quarter and imposed their will,” Paladins coach Charles Wiggins said of Wesleyan, a team that’s made at least the third round of the last three state playoffs. “It was like a boxing match where they punched and we didn’t punch back.”
Wesleyan quarterback Will Anderson threw for 336 yards and four touchdown passes. One of his few mistakes led to a Pinecrest score when lineman Adam Maresco intercepted him and galloped 22 yards for a touchdown.
Strom complete 16 of 28 passes for 92 yards and threw two interceptions. He added the Paladins’ other touchdown on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter. Six of his completions went to John DePalma for 52 yards.
John Paul Metz added seven solo tackles on defense for Pinecrest (2-7, 0-6).
The Paladins are off this week before finishing up 2011 with their subregion crossover game.
For complete coverage of all the games, see the next edition of the Forsyth County News. For all the latest in Forsyth County Sports, follow Phil Ervin on Twitter at twitter.com/PhilErvin_FCN .