With the offense unable to gather momentum early, South Forsyth had to rely on other means of production. That source turned out to be the special teams unit.
Salem Collins returned a kickoff for a touchdown and Brett Charron scored twice in a 29-7 homecoming victory for the War Eagles against winless Duluth on a moist and chilly Friday night at War Eagle Field.
After Duluth turned a fumble by Nick Belyew into a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the War Eagles (3-4 overall, 2-3 Region 7-AAAAA) answered seconds later when Collins returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to paydirt and the Eagles were successful on a two-point try for an 8-7 edge.
“Our kickoff return for a touchdown was a lot of fun,” said South Forsyth coach Wendell Early, whose team bounced back from a 27-7 setback to North Forsyth last Friday.
While South’s defense forced turnovers and provided good field position, the Eagles’ hurry-up offense remained inconsistent. Two plays after Jeff Becker recovered a fumble deep in Wildcats’ territory, the visitors took the ball back with an interception of a Belyew pass.
But the tide would finally turn when South got the ball back on the opponents’ 40 midway through the second quarter. Belyew (11-for-16, 93 yards, TD, 19 carries for 102 yards) ran for 15 yards and Brett Charron capped the drive with a two-yard score on a direct snap, producing a 15-7 lead with 3:35 left in the half.
“They (the defense) really played well, caused some turnovers and didn’t give up many yards at all,” Early noted. He called the effort “terrific” and credited the entire defensive coaching staff for a solid game plan.
Senior Curtis Parker led the charge with nine tackles and three sacks and sophomore Joe Outlaw added an interception. The War Eagles recovered three fumbles by the Wildcats, who manufactured just 110 yards of offense.
It seemed too easy for the Eagles’ offense in the second half, mainly because of what they heard in the locker room.
“We had a little talk at halftime,” said Early with a grin. “We challenged them a little bit and they did better.”
The bruising runner Charron (53 yards) opened a nine-play, 79-yard drive with a run for 19 and fought for a first down on fourth-and-1, setting up a 30-yard touchdown catch by David Knorr (five receptions, 70 yards) on the next play for a 22-7 margin.
Following a Duluth (0-7, 0-5) punt, South was handed great field position and capitalized quickly this time. Belyew ran for 15 yards and connected with Knorr on a slant pattern for 14 more, placing the Eagles on the doorstep of the goal line. Charron then carried a few Wildcats with him on a burst into the end zone from one yard out for a commanding 29-7 advantage.
Despite four turnovers (three interceptions and a lost fumble), the Eagles finished with 283 yards, including 190 on the ground.
South continues Region 7-AAAAA action with a visit to Peachtree Ridge this Friday.