MARIETTA — Kell used one explosive play after another to put Forsyth Central away 53-21 and secure its second region championship in three years Friday night at home.
Forsyth Central (2-8, 2-4 Region 7-AAAAA) scored the first points of the game on a nine-play drive midway through the first quarter, but big plays kept Kell (9-1, 5-0) in the game and a key passing play with less than a minute to go in the first half broke any momentum the Bulldogs had built.
"I told the guys that they [Central] were going to come out on fire," Kell head coach Derek Cook said. "We felt like if we could weather their storm early we could prevail. That is exactly what happened and we were able to get some big plays out of some great athletes."
With 47 seconds to play before halftime, Kell quarterback Matthew McGuigan found wide receiver Brendan Langley on the right side for what looked like yet another screen pass, but McGuigan’s pass went backward. Langley heaved a perfect toss to fellow wide out Quincy Mauger for a 52-yard touchdown and a 27-14 halftime lead.
"Coach saw they were biting real hard on that play and that is just what they did there," Langley said. "I just saw Quincy open downfield and threw it to him."
Langley added 82 yards rushing and a touchdown on three carries and caught three passes for 72 yards. Running back Khalil Ball added 54 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.
"Langley is electric," Cook said. "He is a guy you really can’t get near. He plays in a bubble and you can’t get close to him because he is so quick. Ball has really come on late in the season, but all the credit goes to the offensive line. If they are not doing their jobs, none of those guys get loose."
The Bulldogs came out of the gates fired up and ready to end the season on a positive note, but had no answer for Kell’s speed and explosiveness. The Longhorns put up 526 total offensive yards with seven touchdowns in the game. They had eight plays of at least 27 yards and four of at least 42 yards.
"We did some good things in the first half, but honestly, their athletes just took over the game," Central head coach Chris Bennett said. "We just couldn’t match their speed, but I am proud of our effort tonight."
The Kell defense gave up 21 points, but did not allow a fourth-down conversion in the game. Central went for it on fourth down five times and came up empty every time.
All of Central’s points came on the ground as the Bulldogs rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. Fullback Jake Gorczyca rushed for 128 yards on 19 carries, including a 47-yard touchdown.
Quarterback Michael Branigan connected with C.J. Cochran for a 55-yard pass that was the only completion of the night for Central.