Football: Late field goal spoils North Forsyth's season-opener
North Forsyth’s defense allowed 230 rushing yards against Sequoyah on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. (Photo by Cherokee Tribune)

CANTON – Sequoyah jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter of their opening game against North Forsyth, and then won the game on a go-ahead 20-yard field goal from Wesley Potter that put the Chiefs in front 30-28 with 2:37 left in the contest.

Sequoyah had failed to tie the game on their previous possession when they scored a touchdown, but Potter's extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 28-27.

"We knew it was going to be one of those back and forth things" said Sequoyah coach James Teter. "We didn't hang our heads when we fell behind, and we found a way to fight back into it. Our kids played really well."

Both teams focused on the running game in their offenses, and it was North (0-1) that gained more yardage on the ground, totaling 230 rushing yards to Sequoyah's 166. The Raiders' Jonathan Perez led all rushers with 121 yards.

Non-offensive scores are a great equalizer in football though, and the Chiefs got one from their secondary in the first half. Trailing 7-0, North faced a 3rd-and-6 at their own 24-yard line. Quarterback Ben Bales saw an open man downfield, but Potter, who plays on the defensive side of the ball as well, jumped in front of the route and intercepted the pass, returning it 36 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

On the following possession, North got back in the game. Perez took a handoff and raced 28 yards up the middle of the field to the end zone, cutting the Sequoyah lead to 14-7 with 7:26 left until halftime. The play capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.

The score stayed that way at the break, and on their first possession of the second half, North tied the game at 14. After four straight carries by Perez, tight end Clayton Bardall broke away for a 44-yard touchdown halfway through the third quarter.

Sequoyah answered quickly with a long touchdown run of their own, a 54-yard scoring run by Luke Jensen. Jensen finished with 78 yards on 12 carries.

Later in the quarter, North caught a break on a bobbled snap by Sequoyah punter Tyler Price, who was tackled before he could kick the ball away at the 7-yard line. Three plays later, Bales found Tristan Howard in the corner of the end zone to tie the game at 21.

The Raiders took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter when Bales again threw a score, this time to a wide-open Charlie Aiken for 23 yards for a 28-21 lead.

On the following drive, Sequoyah faced a 4th-and-1 near midfield when Cameron Gales took the handoff, broke through a crowded line, and went 58 yards for a touchdown. Gales led the Chiefs with 88 yards on 18 carries. Following the run by Gales, Potter's extra point was blocked, setting up the game's final sequence.

"When we missed that extra point we could have crumbled," Teter said. "We all said it's just one point, and we still had about eight minutes left. We just needed to get a stop and not let them eat up too much time."

Sequoyah's defense indeed stopped North on the following possession, forcing a three-and-out. When the Chiefs got the ball back, they put Potter in position to win the game with a 9-play drive that started at their own 39-yard line and moved to the North 3.

“It feels good (to win the opening game),” Teter said. "It's been a while since we've done that, three years since we started the season with a win."