After going down 21-0 in the second quarter, Central fought its way back into the ballgame, but ultimately came up short in a 32-17 loss to Kennesaw Mountain on Friday night.
“I didn’t get the guys ready to pay,” Central head coach Frank Hepler said. “Our kids played really hard. I made too many mistakes as a coach and they outcoached us, but our kids played hard, I’m so proud of them, but I gotta do a better job.”
After forcing a punt on the Bulldogs’ opening drive, Kennesaw Mountain (2-3) put together an excellent 15-play, 96-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Guest to Warren Estes. The drive took nearly half of the first quarter and was kept alive by two pass interference penalties on third and long plays.
Central (3-1) responded with an 11-play drive of their own, but ultimately got stopped on fourth-and-two deep in Mustangs’ territory.
The Bulldogs were stopped on fourth-and-short twice in the second quarter. And the second time, the Mustangs went for the jugular, going deep on the first play. Guest connected with Donta Carter who went up over the defender and tipped the ball to himself for a 39-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Carter’s second of the game, giving Kennesaw Mountain a 21-0 lead.
But Central was able to get back into the game late in the first half with a 10-play, 55-yard drive. Sabrian Howard punched it in from a yard out to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 21-7 at the half.
Kennesaw Mountain seemed to do a good job of containing Central’s dynamic running back, but Howard still managed 106 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, while also adding 33 receiving yards.
The Bulldogs struggled to shut down the Mustangs’ rushing attack in the second half. They racked up 185 rushing yards in the game’s final two quarters, and their dynamic duo of Tony Mack and Keyon Brooks finished the game with 163 and 135 yards respectively.
“We gotta get back to our fundamentals,” Hepler said. “We gotta keep blocking and tackling and working all phases of the game, because like I said, I didn’t have them ready to go. We did a lot of good things tonight. We had some yards on offense, we got some stops and a couple turnovers on defense, but we just never put it together.”
The Mustangs ended the game with 408 yards of total offense compared to 313 for the Bulldogs. Each team fumbled once, but Central turned it over on downs three times in the ballgame, and those stalled drives were the difference.
Hepler took full responsibility for the loss, but believes his team can learn a lot from this outcome.
“That’s a good football team,” Hepler said. “Their record doesn’t indicate. They’ve played a tough schedule. I think we’re gonna be a decent team but we’re still building. It’s only a bad loss if you let it turn into another one. So they gotta learn you come back, you correct the mistakes, and again, that goes back on me, so we’re gonna learn on the mistakes we did make tonight, my mistakes included, and just try to be better. Sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from a win.”
Kennesaw Mountain 32, Forsyth Central 17
Kennesaw Mtn 7 14 5 6_32
Forsyth Central 0 7 3 7_17
KM_Estes 14 pass from Guest (kick good), 4:05
KM_Carter 10 pass from Guest (kick good), 6:31
KM_Carter 39 pass from Guest (kick good), 4:40
FC_Howard 1 run (kick good), 0:21
KM_Cantrell 32 field goal
FC_Corona 38 field goal
KM_Mack 6 run (kick blocked), 8:48
FC_Edmunds 10 run (kick good), 8:09