For the second week in a row, North Forsyth jumped out to a 10-point lead on a Region 7-AAAAA powerhouse. And for the second week in a row, the Raiders couldn’t make it stick.
Collins Hill quarterback Michael Box led his unbeaten Eagles to 28 unanswered points Friday, more than enough to overcome an early deficit and hand North a 49-28 loss in Raider Valley.
Raiders’ coach Jared Zito said that while his team has made good strides this season, there are still things it must learn.
“The bottom line is, we just have to figure out how to play four quarters of football. ... You can’t play for two quarters, three quarters, you’ve got to put a full game together,” Zito said.
“We’ve learned how to play good football ... we’re just not used to being ahead of people. Learning how to win is multiple phases, and we just haven’t figured that part out yet.”
Quarterback Eli Chester (10-for-17, 155 yards passing) set up the first score of the game on the Raiders’ second possession with a 47-yard bomb pass to receiver Jordan Totten, who was brought down at the 2-yard line.
Two plays later, Chester punched the ball in on a 1-yard keeper run. Corey Reins’ extra point attempt bounced off the right upright, down onto the crossbar, and finally through the posts to give his team a 7-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
North caught the Eagles off guard by recovering an onside kick on the next play, a move that eventually led to a 42-yard field goal by Reins.
The ensuing possession by the Eagles appeared to end in a three-and-out after Box failed to complete a pass on 3rd-and-8 from their own 22, but a roughing the passer penalty against North kept the drive alive.
That play came back to haunt the Raiders later in the drive, when Box (15-for-26, 211 yards, 2 touchdowns) completed a 48-yard pass down to the North 2, setting up a short touchdown run by running back Charles Perkins (99 yards rushing on 22 carries, 3 touchdowns) with 8:42 remaining in the half.
After Reins hit another field goal to boost the lead to 13-7, Box connected with Destry Berry on a 50-yard touchdown strike, and the point after gave Collins Hill its first lead of the night, 14-13, with 3:27 left before the half.
The Raiders’ next drive began on their own 38, but Tyler Slaton (72 yards rushing on 15 carries) dramatically changed field position fortunes with a 37-yard run down to the Eagles’ 25.
A pair of quarterback keeper runs by Chester (44 yards rushing on 15 carries) followed, leading to a 1-yard run to paydirt by Slaton with 1:28 on the clock.
“We’re really starting to execute pretty well,” Zito said. “We have a good running game, and Eli has really thrown the ball well the last three weeks and Jordan Totten, Jory [Walsh] and those guys have done a good job of catching it.”
Despite being penalized five yards on the two-point conversion attempt, Chester hit a wide-open Slaton to increase the lead to 21-14.
After that, the Raiders’ night took a turn for the worse.
The Eagles began their next possession at their own 46 after a facemask penalty against North during the kickoff return.
More infractions against the Raiders helped Collins Hill advance to the 1-yard line, where Box spiked the ball to stop the clock with eight seconds on the board.
Collins Hill opted to go for the touchdown rather than kick a field goal, and the decision paid off when backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke dove into the end zone with 5.7 seconds left. The extra point tied the game 21-21 at the half.
Box and the Eagles’ offense went back to work on the first possession of the second half, capping off a 76-yard drive with 15-yard touchdown pass to Perkins.
The Raiders were unable to respond once they got the ball back, and a short punt from the 16-yard line set up Collins Hill at the North 39. Box eventually finished the drive with a 1-yard keeper run into the end zone.
Yet another Collins Hill touchdown ran the advantage to 42-21 before Tyler Slaton scored with 6:50 to play. Reins’ kick was good, trimming the deficit to 42-28.
The onside kick was unsuccessfull this time, though, and the Eagles used the good field position to add one final touchdown on another run by Perkins.
“The second half, they controlled the clock and we got pinned down deep,” Zito said. “I can really only think of one or two real drives before the game was kind of out of reach.”
North is off this week, giving the team an extra week to prepare to face county rival South Forsyth on Oct. 10 in Raider Valley.
“We need a bye week right now from an injury standpoint,” the coach said.
“We’ll maybe take a look at some other personnel. It’s a good week to do that, to see if some other people need to be in the mix a little more.”