CARTERSVILLE – Heading into Friday’s game between Forsyth Central and Woodland, Wildcats head coach Vince DiLorenzo knew the Bulldogs were going to try to pound the football between the tackles.
Woodland may have known how Central was going to try to beat them, but the Wildcats couldn’t stop it and failed to consistently move the ball on offense as the Bulldogs won 36-14 at Woodland High.
Forsyth Central is off to its first 2-0 start since 1998.
"It’s not what we did well tonight other than fight through some adversity," Central head coach Shane Williamson said. "We didn’t have the week of practice we have had this year, had some lightning, had the holiday on Monday, but the bottom line is these guys stepped up. The coaching staff made great adjustments and we found a way to be successful on offense and defense."
Central (2-0) pulled away in the second half, due in large part to strong running from backs Shaun Diebel and Sabrian Howard. The pair combined for 228 rushing yards in the second half. Diebel finished with 20 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while Howard ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns as Central outgained Woodland, 315-93, on offense.
Woodland mistakes allowed Forsyth Central to take an early lead when Woodland failed to corral a bouncing kickoff and the Wildcats began the first drive of the game at their own 8-yard line. A safety three plays later on a tackle by Central’s Pierce Nufer and Cedric Dorsey gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
Woodland got the ball back, but turned the ball over on the next play when starting quarterback Grant Robinson was intercepted by Robbie Repasz. Central took over at Woodland’s 13-yard line and scored three plays later. On third-and-3, Shaun Diebel ran the ball in from six yards out to give the Bulldogs a 9-0 lead.
Woodland scored on its next series on a 30-yard passing play from Robinson to Mitchell Taylor to make it 9-7 at the beginning of the second quarter.
The teams exchanged punts for the remainder of the half until Central took over at midfield with 4:14 remaining. The Bulldogs worked the ball down to the Woodland 23-yard line, but stalled to set up a 4th-and-6.
After 19 running plays, Central threw its first pass of the game on a screen, catching the Woodland defense off guard. Patrick Little took the pass from Trey Abercrombie and went 23 yards for the score just before halftime to give the Bulldogs a 16-7 lead.
"That’s something we put in, and we knew that we’re a running football team and we have to throw the football as well,"Williamson said. "The players did a good job of executing it."
A 12-play, 67-yard drive allowed Howard to score the first touchdown of the second half from one yard midway through the third quarter. The point-after was missed, but Central took a 22-7 lead.
The Bulldogs got get another touchdown three plays later off Woodland’s second interception of the game. Noah Aguirre picked off Robinson and brought the ball to the Woodland 38-yard line. Howard ran the ball in from there on Central’s first play of the drive to take a 29-7 lead.
Central added one last touchdown when, on a third-and-5, Diebel took a pitch to the outside and ran it 66 yards for the touchdown with 5:29 left on the game clock.
The finishing touch to the win was added byCentral’s Logan Tate, who sacked Robinson with just over two minutes remaining to ice the victory.