Forsyth Central fullback Jacob Ward had the play of the night Friday, running over a Woodland-Cartersville defensive back in what fans in the stands couldn’t help but describe as the second coming of “Herschel over Bates,” one of the more memorable plays in Georgia Bulldogs football history.
Ward’s run capped off a night that was all about Bulldogs history—the history of Forsyth Central—as the 60th anniversary of the school was celebrated in a 39-7 victory over the Wildcats from the opposite sub-region of 7-AAAAA.
It was a non-flashy, yet nearly perfect performance from Central, which outgained Woodland 291 to 133, committed just four penalties on illegal procedures, and forced five punts. The only mishaps were on extra-point plays, where Central pushed a PAT and failed on a 2-point attempt.
Members of the Forsyth Central community from each decade since the school’s first season in 1970 were honored before kickoff.
“We had a great crowd tonight. I thought the 60th anniversary was great. I’m very proud to be a Forsyth Central Bulldog,” head coach Shane Williamson said.
This is Central’s second 2-0 start in a row under the leadership of Williamson, and the Bulldogs can start the season 3-0 for the first time since 1997 with a win next week against Cass at home. Even though the Bulldogs have won their first two games by a combined 52 points, starting quarterback Jagger Hartshorn thinks his team has room for improvement.
“We do need work,” Hartshorn said. “We are going to go back to practice this week and keep improving.”
Hartshorn was at least perfect through the air, completing both of his pass attempts to Ward for 57 yards, but it was the rushing attack that steadily controlled the contest. Shaun Diebel led the way with 80 yards on 17 carries, while Sabrian Howard carried ten times for 52 yards and Hartshorn added 56 on six carries.
Central struck on its opening drive, finishing off a 13-play, 80-yard march with a sneak from the goal line from Hartshorn. Central set the tone, taking six minutes off the clock as it used intermediate gains to frustrate the Woodland defense.
“Our game plan tonight was to go out there and just keep pounding and pounding,” Hartshorn said.
“Defensively, they’re going to be one of the more physical football teams we play up front,” Williamson said of Woodland. “They’ve got some big guys. They played a lot of kids both ways and we said if we could hang in there it might start wearing them down.”
Hartshorn added another score on a 4-yard scamper at the start of the second quarter, while Diebel found the endzone twice in the first half from inside 5 yards. Woodland’s lone score came on a 22-yard touchdown run from Jarvis James to pull within 20-7, but Diebel took away any momentum with an 84-yard scamper on the ensuing kickoff to set up his own touchdown.
Howard scored from 5 yards away in the third quarter before Ward’s crowd-pleasing run.
Pierce Nufer had two sacks and a forced fumble on defense for Central. Woodland lost two fumbles of four fumbles on the night, with three coming from quarterback Grant Robinson. James led the Wildcats in rushing with 47 yards on 10 carries.