After enduring a tough loss last week against Cass, Forsyth Central was faced with another daunting opponent: No. 8-ranked Kell.
Central entered as a significant underdog but pushed Kell all the way to the brink, coming only a few yards short of an upset in a 14-13 defeat on Friday.
“The thing I challenged this football team to do was to be in a four-quarter game with Kell,” Central coach Shane Williamson said. “We’re banged up, we got a lot of guys hurt right now, (but) I thought our defense played outstanding and our offense did what we wanted them to do.”
Central trailed 14-7 with only 3:12 left in the fourth quarter. Kell had possession after a Bulldogs punt and the situation looked grim for the home team.
But on the first play of the drive, senior Bulldogs linebacker Pierce Nufer leapt in front of an errant throw at the line of scrimmage and intercepted the pass. After coming down with the pick, Nufer raced up-field and made it all the way inside the Kell 15 yard line.
With under a minute left in the game, Central (2-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAAAA) capitalized on the Nufer interception, punching in a 1-yard touchdown and bringing the Bulldogs within a single point, 14-13.
Williamson opted to leave his offense on the field and go for the win instead of playing for the tie and overtime.
The two-point conversion play-call was a half-back pass by running back Sabrian Howard that was underthrown and intercepted in the end-zone, ending Central’s chance for the upset of a lifetime.
“We’ve had a few problems with extra points this season, but really, it’s not even that,” Williamson said. “That’s just what you do when you have the chance to pull off a big upset. Getting the interception and the momentum, we knew we would have a shot. We fell short, but I’m proud of my kids.”
In the closing minutes of the first quarter, senior rusher Shaun Diebel, who entered the contest as one of Central’s three captains, struggled to get to his feet after a rushing attempt and was helped off the field by the training staff.
Diebel, who has dealt with various injuries throughout his high school career, was unable to return to the field, depriving Central of its most dynamic offensive player for the majority of the game.
After a scoreless first quarter from both teams, Kell struck first midway through the second. Longhorn quarterback Stone Hatfield connected with receiver Bryan Armstrong on a 15-yard fade route in the corner of the end zone, giving Kell a 7-0 lead.
In the third quarter, Kell doubled its lead to 14-0 after a 1-yard run by Josiah Futral (20 carries, 118 yards, TD). But later in the quarter, Central answered with a 13-play, 77 yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard Howard (21 carries, 77 yards, TD) touchdown run, making the score 14-7.
“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge,” Nufer said. “We went full speed in practice all week and stepped it up. I’m definitely proud of my team, and I’m counting this week as a win in my book.”
Kell 14, Forsyth Central 13
Kell 0 7 7 0_14
Forsyth Central 0 0 7 6_13
K_Armstrong 15 pass from Hatfield (kick good), 6:45
K_Futral 1 run (kick good), 11:48
FC_Howard 5 run (kick good), 8:18
FC_Hatsfield 1 run (pass failed), 3:12