Behind a four-touchdown opening period by Jayce Todaro, the Forsyth Central Bulldogs were victorious in their season opener against Chattahoochee, 44-21, Friday night at home.
“Our offense is a lot of fun,” Central head coach David Rooney said. "They executed well, we definitely dominated the front. We got some things to clean up, obviously, to get better for our next game."
Senior Camden Yeager gave the Central Crazies an electrifying return on the opening kickoff, taking it to the 47-yard line.
On the first play of the ballgame, running back Justin Taylor got struck in the backfield for a loss of 4 yards, but on the following play, an encroachment penalty by Chattahoochee gave those yards right back.
Taylor took the handoff again and burst down the middle with speed for a 28-yard pick-up, giving the Bulldogs first-and-goal. Rooney then put in Todaro, and he finished the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
The Cougars began their initial series on the 20-yard line and ran a sweep handoff to Joseph Ebun, but a bunch of Bulldogs rallied to the football before he could reach the line of scrimmage, resulting in a 5-yard loss.
The Cougars then decided to throw a screen pass to Caleb Meyers, but defensive back Aiden Manalastas pursued the football, making it third-and-14. On the following play, Cougars quarterback Luke Priester passes the ball to Duncan Hogg, but it slips out of his hands, forcing the Cougars to punt the football.
A short punt by Chattahoochee gave Central perfect field position on the opposing 38-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Brady Smith zipped a pass to Yeager for a 28-yard reception. Soon after that Todaro ran in from 5 yards out for his second touchdown of the game.
However, instead of kicking the extra point, tight end Brandon Carver got the snap and tried to run it in for the 2-point conversion, but the Cougars were on it, making the score 13-0 with 6:32 remaining in the quarter.
Chattahoochee quickly responded back with D.J. Avery shedding defensive back Bailey Johnson off of him and speeding past multiple Bulldogs for a 75-yard touchdown.
As Central was bullying the Cougars' defensive line with its rushing attack, on second and 7, Todaro trucked a Cougar then showed his strength by stiff-arming a defender and cruising for a 60-yard touchdown.
Rooney started his next offensive series by giving the rock to Taylor, who carried it for roughly 10 yards. He then put in senior Kole McGlumphy, who fought for 17 yards, with multiple Cougars trying to bring him down. Shortly after Todaro powered in for his fourth touchdown of the game in the first quarter.
“Yup, I’ve been hitting that weight room,” Todaro said, regarding whether he envisioned scoring four times.
Todaro racked up 104 yards on 10 touches to complete a monster performance.
“[Todaro] has been doing that at practices, as well,” Rooney said. “We have a few different running backs we're going to spread the ball out to. We feel really good about our running back, and our offense allows us to showcase different talents we have."
In the red zone, Smith tried to scramble around the Cougars defense but was yanked by the facemask. That drew Central closer to the end zone, placing the ball at the 7-yard line.
The Cougars then picked up another flag — this time it was an encroachment call — putting the ball at the 3-yard line, where Taylor eased his way for the score early in the second quarter.
Before the Bulldogs went into the locker room, Jonathan Clapper stepped onto the field to drill a 26-yard field goal, growing the lead to 37-14.
Neither Central nor Chattahoochee were able to have a successful drive to begin the third quarter, leading to multiple punts.
Over the course of the entire game, the Bulldogs allowed just 21 rushing yards on 17 carries.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Smith threw a lob pass to Yeager for a 55-yard pickup. Then on fourth down, Smith looked Yeager’s way again, but he was pushed down by the Cougars, who picked up a pass interference call.
Smith was determined to get Yeager the ball, and indeed, he did on a 12-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 44-14.
Smith completed five of his nine passes for 113 yards.
With 5:11 remaining, Matthew Gidley steps onto the field to replace the injured Priester. Gidley threw a jump ball to the receiver, but it landed in the hands of Manalastas.
“We’re really confident with our front five, front seven and our back end is coming along,” Rooney said of the defense. "They made some great plays. We got some pass breakups; we had the interception and great tackles on the perimeter. As the game went on, we got better so that was great confidence for them."
Forsyth Central will face rival North Forsyth, which fell to North Atlanta on a late touchdown the night prior, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at home.