ATLANTA – After a sluggish first half for both the North Springs Spartans and the Forsyth Central Bulldogs, the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half, capitalizing on the Spartans’ mistakes in a 49-21 victory Friday at Thermopylae Stadium.
The victory was a milestone for the team, as it guarantees the Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2 Region 7-AAAAA, Div. B) their first .500 season since 2008. Coach Shane Williamson was aware of the meaning behind the victory,
"It feels great," Williamson said. "This is a win we’ve been looking for since I have been here."
Williamson acknowledged that they still have work to do to get into the playoffs, saying, "We have a tough task in the week ahead, we’re just taking it week by week."
The night started with two struggling defenses and two offenses that couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. The game got going as junior running back Shaun Diebel scored late in the first quarter, putting Central up 7-0. Both offenses began to play well near the end of the second quarter. Bulldogs sophomore running back Sabrian Howard got involved in the act, scoring to give Central a 14-0 lead. The Spartans answered in the waning minutes of the first half, completing a touchdown pass to set the score at 14-7 at halftime.
Central’s defense in the second half bent but did not break. North Springs opened the half moving the ball into the red zone looking to tie the score when Central junior safety Robbie Repasz intercepted the ball for the first big defensive play of the half. The Bulldogs assembled a long drive, breaking off long runs while eating the clock down. The drive ended with a 9-yard touchdown from Diebel, his second on the night.
In the following possessions, the Central defense came up with big plays again. Repasz broke up a deep pass on third down to end one drive. Junior lineman Cedrick Dorsey halted North Springs’ next drive with a sack, dropping the quarterback for a 10-yard loss.
Meanwhile, Diebel and Howard continued rolling. The duo took turns scoring in the second half. Diebel started the trend with a 1-yard plunge at the end of the third quarter setting the score at 21-7. Howard then got his turn, taking a run eight yards to score, putting his team up 28-7. Diebel rushed for his fourth touchdown of the night in the fourth quarter.
Diebel and Howard combined for a total of 208 yards in the second half and six touchdowns on the night.
"We know our roles," Diebel said. "I love blocking for [Howard]. We do what it takes to win."
A special teams turnover led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Jeppson Parker for the Bulldogs’ final points.