By Mackenzie Bates
For the Forsyth County News
Offense wins games and defense wins championships. It’s a saying as old as the game itself.
On Friday’s showdown with Cass, though, Central leaned heavily on the latter unit for the win.
Forsyth Central’s defensive unit set up its offense as it forced three turnovers in the first half that led to two scores in a 24-12 victory Friday night in Cumming.
“They played real team defense,” Bulldogs head coach Frank Hepler said. “We still have a long way to go. We made some mistakes that we’ve got to overcome. Cass has some good athletes and we had our work cut out for us. But we made some good plays with the fumble and the interception to give our offense a short field to work with.”
Leading 3-0 after the first quarter, a fumble recovery by Central’s Ethan Young on a punt put the Bulldogs inside the Colonel red zone. Quarterback Ryan Van Uum would break several tackles for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Colonels could not get past their own 36-yard line in the first half and had only 20 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes. The Bulldog defense allowed only 157 yards for the game.
Just before halftime, an Anthony Persichetti Interception deep inside Colonel territory allowed Van Uum to score from four yards out to give Central a 17-0 lead at the break.
“The credit goes to all of the coaches that got us ready,” Persichetti said. “Our defense played really well. The offense was able to capitalize on (turnovers), and it was big for the team.”
Van Umm, a sophomore, stepped in for injured quarterback Hunter Cagle and has guided the Bulldogs to a 2-0 start.
“You’d think he’s a senior the way he does things out there,” Hepler said of his quarterback. “He’s one of the coolest kids I’ve seen under pressure. He doesn’t let things bother him. He studies it and he’s ready for anything.”
“The seniors make me feel welcome, and it’s getting easier,” Van Umm said. “But the harder we work, the better we’re going to get.”
The Colonels (1-1) would get on the board in their first offensive possession of the second half. Quarterback Rett Moore connected with Jacquez Fountain on a 21-yard pass on fourth down to bring Cass within striking distance.
Central (2-0) would struggle to gain yards in the third quarter but figured out the formula midway through the fourth. Senior running back Devran Orsan had four carries for 36 yards as part of a 17-touch, 86-yard performance to score from four yards out to extend the Bulldog lead 24-6.
“I think we ran the same play four or five times on that drive,” Helper said. “Sometimes you go with what they’re giving you and that was the deciding factor.”
Central ran the ball 54 times for 236 yards. Van Uum had 52 yards on 15 carries with the two scores. Dalton Edmunds had 45 yards on 5 carries. Devon Taylor had 10 carries for 37 yards and Patrick Leathers had five rushes for 14 yards.
Central hosts Denmark next week in a matchup between the county’s oldest school and its newest.