JOHNS CREEK — South Forsyth lost a lot more than a game Friday night.
Quarterback Brian Adams passed for two touchdowns and ran for another to push the War Eagles out to a 28-14 lead over Chattahoochee at halftime, but the star signal-caller was forced to watch from the sideline the entire second half, the result of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
Without Adams the Eagles suffered a catastrophic collapse, falling 47-28 in the Cougars’ den after watching Chattahoochee explode for 33 unanswered points in the final two quarters.
The effect of Adams’ injury, however, could linger far beyond the sting of Friday’s defeat.
The injury occurred on a punt return in the second quarter, when Adams was tackled near the sideline after carrying the ball deep into Cougars’ territory. The play was negated due to a block-in-the-back penalty.
Adams said the initial assessment of the injury was a grade-III shoulder separation, putting his availability for the remainder of the season in question.
But the quarterback remained upbeat in spite of the damage to his shoulder, saying he will focus on rehabilitating and getting back on the field as soon as possible.
As for the future of the rest of the War Eagles, South coach Wendell Early promised that his team will never again suffer such an implosion.
“This won’t happen again, I can guarantee that,” a visibly upset Early said.
“We may lose again, but we’re not going to lose that way, never ever again.”
Early had no shortage of things to be frustrated about.
The Eagles proved incapable of moving the ball on offense in the second half, suffered from poor tackling on defense and a lack of execution on special teams, which ultimately turned the momentum in favor of the Cougars.
After an early third-quarter defensive stand that saw a deflection in the end zone by Curtis Parker and a sack by Carlton Johnson a play later, South forced Chattahoochee into settling for a 40-yard field goal, making it 28-17.
But the Eagles (1-3 overall, 1-2 Region 7-AAAAA) were caught off guard when the Cougars (1-3, 1-1) recovered an onside kick on the next play. South suffered the consequences when
Chattahoochee faked a punt and Connor Coons ran for the first down, setting up a 19-yard touchdown reception by Matt Kirstein that helped slice the margin to just four points with 6:26 left in the frame.
Once again the War Eagles gave the ball back quickly, and the Cougars made the defense pay. On third down, Chattahoochee quarterback Brendan Cross, who completed 16-of-25 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns, connected with Kirstein for 17 yards.
Cross followed with a four-yard score to give Chattahoochee a 31-28 lead — its first of the night — with 56 seconds left in the quarter.
Things continued to spiral downward once South’s offense returned to the field. The War Eagles — backed up near their own goal line — committed a holding penalty in the end zoneb which resulted in a safety.
The Cougars’ offense continued to flourish in the fourth, hanging 14 more points on the scoreboard to seal a comfortable win.
Thanks to the presence of the versatile Adams, the first 24 minutes unfolded in a totally different manner for the Eagles, who benefited from some big plays.
Despite a penalty-filled opening drive by South, Adams found a wide open Corey Guhl over the middle for a 61-yard TD and a 7-0 edge. After Chattahoochee pulled even with 2:26 left in the first, Adams hit David Knorr on a slant pattern, totaling 75 yards and a seven-point lead.
The War Eagles slowed the pace in the second as Brett Charron (100 yards on 14 carries) bulldozed through tacklers for 21 yards before Adams closed the drive with a 11-yard touchdown run and a 21-7 advantage with 5:18 to go before the break. Cross responded with a 15-yard score on the Cougars ensuing possession, but Knorr later hauled in a 29-yard catch for South and
Charron took a direct snap into the end zone from three yards out for a 28-14 lead in the closing seconds before halftime.
The Eagles exploded for 312 yards in the first half compared to just 72 in the second without the services of Adams.
South Forsyth returns home to face Northview at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Sports Editor Jared Putnam contributed to this article.