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Football: North blanks Central in dominant defensive performance
North Forsyth players converge on Forsyth Central running back Patrick Haertel on Friday during the Raiders' 23-0 win. Photo by Sydney Jarrard for the Forsyth County News

By Will Grice

For the Forsyth County News

The North Forsyth Raiders defeated the Central Forsyth Bulldogs 23-0 on a rainy Friday night.

The showdown between the Raiders and the Bulldogs was not as close as the two teams' previous meetings. The Bulldogs committed three false start penalties on their first drive before having to punt.

The Raiders drove the ball down the field, pounding the ball on the ground with running backs Patrick Corrigan and Mason Lawson. 

The Raiders found themselves in the red zone with all signs pointing towards a Raider touchdown. Corrigan took a handoff up the middle and was about to score, but a Bulldog defender knocked the ball free and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback to end the first quarter.

The Bulldogs went three-and-out on the next drive to give the ball back to the Raiders at their own 45-yard line. 

Despite the great field position, the Raiders only came away with a field goal, as kicker Will Peltz made a 40-yard field goal to put North up 3-0.

The Bulldogs' defense had come up with two big stops to keep the game from getting out of hand and desperately needed their offense to capitalize on the opportunities given to them. Central running back Malachi McElroy picked up a first down and then quarterback Drew Mullivan found receiver Camden Yeager on a pass that went for 30 yards.

The Bulldogs had some momentum going with the ball now at midfield, but every step forward their offense took tonight seemed to be followed by two steps back.

Mullivan threw three incompletions over the next four plays and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs. The Raiders got the ball back and Peltz kicked another field goal just before halftime to give North a 6-0 lead at the break.

North's halftime advantage could have been greater, as the Raiders failed to score a touchdown on three red-zone trips in the first half. The Raiders were about to pick up the pace, though, heading into the second half.

“It was a rough first half I think for both teams,” North head coach Robert Craft said. “After such a big win for us last week, it can sometimes be hard to pay attention to the details.”

North received the ball to start the second half and found themselves once again in the red zone after a big run by running back Lake Heffington. The Raiders still couldn’t find a way to punch it in and had to settle for another Peltz field goal.

Central had several opportunities to get back into the game, but on the Bulldogs' first offensive play of the half running back Patrick Haertel fumbled the ball and Raider defensive back Nick Ware recovered the ball at the 12-yard line. Three plays later, Raider quarterback Drew Aucion found tight end Riley Smith in the end zone for the touchdown.

The Raiders were up 16-0 halfway through the third quarter and began to exert their will on the Bulldogs. Central’s next three drives would not produce much, and a Corrigan touchdown to begin the fourth quarter essentially ended the game.

“Tonight was a result of our guys' preparation and work all week,” said Craft. “We got right back to the details on Monday. [We] had a great week of practice and it showed tonight.”

North [5-2, 2-1 Region 6-7A] will travel to Lambert next week, while Central [1-5, 0-3 Region 6-7A] looks to get back on track next week at West Forsyth.