LOGANVILLE—Grayson’s lauded defense put an abrupt end to West Forsyth’s unprecedented playoff run.
The Rams suffocated the Wolverines for a 33-7 state quarterfinal victory Friday night at Grayson Community Stadium, forcing four second-half turnovers and limiting West to 86 yards of offense.
The Wolverines came up a win short of advancing as far as any Forsyth County team in history after becoming the first to win a AAAAA playoff game, then knocking off highly-touted Hillgrove in the second round.
“It’s disappointing we lost, but it’s still good,” running back Blake Roberts said. “At least we lost to a better team. You win or go home. This is how our road ends.”
West (11-2) had never won a playoff game before this season, its fourth of varsity competition.
“We’re still a young program,” coach Frank Hepler said. “To get here is a great thing. We’re so proud of these kids.”
Grayson (13-0) remained unblemished and will play host to Colquitt County in the semifinals next Friday. Colquitt defeated Camden County 32-31 Friday night.
The same mix of relentless downhill rushing and prowess at stopping the run that had carried the Rams to four shutout victories and a No. 2 ranking in the GACA Coaches’ Poll doomed West’s chances at a second straight upset.
Five-star college prospect Robert Nkemdiche rushed for four short-yardage touchdowns and helped impede West’s usually reliable ground game from his defensive end position.
The Wolverines came in averaging 218.6 rushing yards per game. They gained 48 against Grayson.
“Every check-off that you’d want to go down the list and say ‘this makes a good defense,’ they’ve got it,” Hepler said. “They have no weaknesses. They’ll contend for a state championship because of that.”
Roberts led West in his and 22 other West seniors’ final game, running for 59 yards on 13 carries. Four Rams backs rushed for 31 yards or more, paced by Devin Gillespie’s 57 yards on 12 attempts.
Quarterback Nick Schuessler completed 6 of 12 passes for 100 yards, including a 46-yard strike to Marcus Lindquist that set up Nkemdiche’s final score.
That 1-yard plunge with 9:18 left in the third quarter provided the final tally. All of the 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior’s touchdowns came from three yards out or closer.
West’s next four possessions ended in either an interception or a turnover on downs.
Quarterback A.J. Erdely scored on an 11-yard run late in the first quarter, giving the Wolverines a brief 7-6 lead. A 63-yard Jake Wieczorek kickoff return set up the Wolverines’ lone touchdown.
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