CARTERSVILLE – On a night where points were sparse, the Forsyth Central Bulldogs came up short in a 13-6 loss to the Cass Colonels on Friday, snapping a two-game winning streak.
"We found a way to win," Cass coach Bobby Hughes said. "Before you can become a great program, you gotta learn how to win and we just learned how to win tonight a little bit and that’s gonna help us."
Trailing 6-3 entering the final 12 minutes, the Colonels used a 15-play drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Benefitting from an encroachment call against Central (2-1), Cass converted a fourth-and-2 from the Bulldog 24 when Laizon West picked up three yards.
Another Central penalty allowed the Colonels to extend the drive when quarterback Trevor Lowe fired a pass to Walter Brown, drawing a pass interference call on third-and-18 from the 19. The penalty moved the ball to the Bulldogs’ 10 and while Cass came up two yards shy of the end zone, Pablo Delores kicked a chip shot field goal from 19 yards out to tie the game at 6 with 6:53 to play.
Following a three-and-out by Central, the Colonels regained possession at the 50-yard line with 4:23 remaining. Two fruitless plays began the drive before Cass dialed up a screen pass to West on third-and-9. West raced up the right sideline for a 17-yard gain, setting his team up at the 32. A false start penalty backed the Colonels up, but Lowe kept the ball and ran for 10 yards to set up a manageable down and distance.
On third-and-7, Lowe turned his attention back to his favorite receiver, as Brown got a step on the defender on a fade pass. Brown bobbled the ball briefly before dragging his feet in to pull in a sliding 29-yard touchdown catch. Delores’ extra point provided Cass with its first lead of the game.
With only 1:31 on the clock, the Bulldogs had to turn to their hurry-up offense, which failed to move past the 42. Central turned the ball over on downs with under 40 seconds left. Shane Williamson noted his team didn’t have much of a choice once the Colonels went ahead; he credited the Cass defense for making things tough.
"If we were good at that, we’d be doing that the whole time," Williamson said, "but we’re a running football team and we’re just trying to go out and execute our two-minute offense, which we didn’t do well. But again, give credit to Cass."
The Colonels bottled up a Bulldog offense that produced two running backs with 300-plus rushing yards in the team’s first two weeks. On Friday, Cass held Central’s Shaun Diebel (22 carries, 115 yards, TD) and Sabrian Howard (14 carries, 41 yards) below their season averages.
"They did a good job up front, defensively," said Williamson, before heaping praise on Foley. "[Middle] linebacker, No. 55, did an outstanding job. We just couldn’t block him; we [were] trying to find ways to get a hat on him, [we weren’t] able to do that."
Looking to open the first half better than it had in its prior two games, Cass nearly converted two third downs on the game’s opening possession.
However, a fumble following Lowe’s completion to Dillon Tutherow set up Central in Colonel territory after the return.
Cass’ defense answered the call despite giving up an 11-yard run to Diebel on 4th-and-6 as well as earning a roughing-the-passer infraction on a 2nd-and-20 play that negated Brett Gaddy’s interception.
Diebel moved the Bulldogs into scoring position with a third-and-goal run to the 1, an 11-yard gain.
On fourth down, though, Xavier Davis stuffed Diebel for no gain.
Williams lamented Central’s missed opportunity on the goal line.
"That’s gonna come back to haunt us because we should’ve punched that one in," Williamson said. We’re a rushing football team. We didn’t play up to par like we’re capable of playing, but don’t take anything away from Cass. They’re well coached; they did a good job and we just fell short tonight. But, I thought our defense played lights-out."
After the Bulldogs’ turnover on downs, the Colonels took possession but were unable to flip the field. Central regained possession at the Cass 25 after a 15-yard return by Robbie Repasz.
A few plays later, Diebel toted the ball for a 22-yard score on third-and-7 to put the Bulldogs ahead 6-0 following a miss on the extra-point attempt.