Without their star player, the South Forsyth War Eagles knew they needed a team effort to get their first Region 7-AAAAA win of the season.
And while it wasn’t always pretty, South jumped ahead of Northview early, got varied and wide contributions from players on both sides of the ball, and coasted to a 35-17 win over the Titans Friday at War Eagle Field.
The War Eagles’ defense scored twice and backup quarterback Nick Belyew held his own in place of injured senior Brian Adams, throwing a pair of touchdown passes.
“Before the game we asked them to play hard for each other and I think they did a really good job of that,” South coach Wendell Early said. “We’ve asked them to play hard for their mothers on Parent Night, their teachers on Faculty Appreciation Night. So we just asked them to think of each other tonight.”
South (2-3 overall, 1-2 Region 7-AAAAA) was given plenty of opportunities off Northview (0-5, 0-3) miscues, but for a while in the first half it looked like the War Eagles wouldn’t be able to take advantage of them.
South was ahead 14-0 early and looked terrific on offense on their opening drive, but the first half ended with the Titans still hanging around at 14-3. The War Eagles were their own worst enemies, committing nine first-half penalties for 85 yards.
But after South turned the ball over on a fumble early in the third quarter, the War Eagles were able to regroup, stop burning themselves with mistakes and take advantage of the mistakes Northview was making.
The Titans had a long touchdown run wiped out by a holding penalty but still had moved the ball to the South 22 when Rashad Conner fumbled an option pitch and David Knorr recovered for the home team.
South went three-and-out, but the punt was muffed by the Northview return man and this time Kyle Travis fell on it, setting the War Eagles up at the Titan 47.
That would prove to be the break South needed, as Belyew led a six-play drive that finished with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Knorr.
The floodgates subsequently opened. Brian Soles picked off a pass at the Northview 41, and South was able to cash in off that turnover with an eight-play touchdown drive. The defense struck again once Northview got the ball back, as Salem Collins got the second fumble-return touchdown of the night on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With the War Eagles’ lead at 32 points and the clock running, Northview’s Kane Whitehurst made the score respectable with a 66-yard punt return touchdown and a 10-yard run after a late South fumble.
The defense made its presence felt early when Hayden Harrington scooped up a Titan fumble on the third play of the game and raced 25 yards to the end zone. They also notched three sacks and held Northview to just 105 total yards of offense.
And Belyew, with Adams signaling in plays from the sideline, did an admirable job of filling his shoes. The sophomore was an efficient 15-for-23 passing, ringing up 126 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He also ran nine times for 52 yards.
He salvaged a broken play by squeezing in a seven-yard touchdown strike to Marquel Pike to put the War Eagles up 14-0 in the first quarter, then laid out a gorgeous strike to Knorr on a post route in the third to get South back on track.
“He didn’t go out and try to do to much,” Early said of the quarterback’s play. “He made really good decisions and did a great job managing the football team. Our offensive line played a great game as well.”
Charron chipped in 45 yards on 12 carries with a third-quarter touchdown, while Knorr finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on six grabs.
Early said he had no way of knowing Adams’ status for South’s next game, which will be at North Forsyth in two weeks. South has a bye this Friday.
While Adams’ availability is uncertain, Early said that the team gained a lot of confidence from winning without him Friday and that he is still finding ways to contribute.
“It’s huge [to win without Adams],” Early said. “Brian’s been great all week helping to coach the quarterbacks, and Nick really responded to him well.”