The Forsyth Central Bulldogs emerged from the locker room after halftime Friday night with momentum, possession and within a touchdown of tying Sequoyah.
But the story behind the Bulldogs’ 35-14 defeat was what happened when the Chiefs had the ball. Sequoyah rushed for 370 yards and put away the Region 7A-AAAAA contest by grinding down the Central defense in the third quarter.
"We cannot put four quarters together," Central head coach Shane Williamson said. "That’s the struggle right now."
The struggle for the Bulldogs (1-6, 1-2) was slowing down Sequoyah’s rushing attack. The Chiefs (5-2, 2-1) churned out 240 yards on the ground in the first half, and did more of the same after holding the Bulldogs three-and-out on the initial possession of the second half, maintaining a 21-14 advantage.
Sequoyah’s first drive of the half benefited greatly from four penalties by the Central defense, including consecutive offsides infractions on fourth down that saw the Chiefs go from kicking a 41-yard field goal to having a first down at the Bulldogs 14. Two plays later, Jake Garner scored from 7 yards out to extend the Sequoyah advantage to 28-14.
Central went three-and-out again on the ensuing possession and the Chiefs seized the opportunity, marching 72 yards on eight plays. DJ Austin plunged in from the 1 to cap the drive and push the score to 35-14 with 1:21 remaining in the quarter.
Central finished with just one first down and 27 yards of total offense after halftime.
"We told them at halftime, ‘You are right where you want to be,’" Williamson said. "To start the second half we needed to drive it down there, and we did not accomplish that."
Sequoyah scored on its first three possessions of the first half and averaged 10 yards per carry in the opening two periods. Five of the Chiefs 20 first-half rushing attempts went for 10 yards or more.
The Chiefs marched 80 yards on their opening possession, quarterback Lex Lauletta slipping free down the right sideline on a 36-yard touchdown run with 8:27 left in the first quarter. James Harris’ extra point made it 7-0 Sequoyah.
The Bulldogs answered by going 72 yards on 10 plays. Forsyth Central went for it on fourth-and-7 from the Chiefs’ 22, and Sequoyah was flagged for roughing the passer, giving the Bulldogs a first down at the 11. Ryan Hintz capped the march on the next play, bursting up the middle for the touchdown, and Anel Ramic’s extra point tied the game with 3:24 remaining in the quarter.
Jake Garner pushed the Chiefs in front on the first play of the second quarter, scoring on a 3-yard run to punctuate an 83-yard drive. Harris’ extra point put the Chiefs ahead 14-7, and after the Bulldogs punted on their next possession, Blake Miller broke loose down the left sideline for an 80-yard score as Sequoyah took a 21-7 lead with 8:41 left in the half.
The Bulldogs responded, thanks to a muffed punt return that Jack Longmore recovered at the Sequoyah 26. Six plays later Central found the end zone, Michael Branigan bouncing off right tackle for a 3-yard score. Ramic converted the point after to bring the Bulldogs within 21-14 with 2:39 to go in the half.
Jake Gorczyca led the Bulldogs with 71 yards rushing on 14 carries. Hintz added 55 yards rushing for Central, which hosts Creekview on Friday.