By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
It wasn’t perfect.
Wins in football rarely are, and perfect wins don’t advance teams any further than imperfect ones.
A week after an emotional, double overtime win over Central, facing a region opponent desperately looking to make homecoming night their first win of the season, the North Forsyth Raiders weren’t seeking perfection — they were seeking another win.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was absolutely, undoubtedly a win.
“We’re super proud of how our guys started both halves so fast, and how they played in every phase of the game,” North head coach Robert Craft said after his squad beat Lambert 49-21 on Friday night. “We had such a big win last week, you just have to keep your mind focused and make sure we can start this thing fast, and our guys did that.”
The Raiders (5-2, 2-0 Region 5-7A) started about as fast as any team possibly can.
On the first play from scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Patrick Corrigan stepped in front of a pass from Lambert quarterback Peyton Rich and returned his interception well into Lambert territory before the North offense had even taken the field.
“We knew that they wanted to hit 11 — he’s their guy,” Corrigan said. “We mugged that on blitzing and I followed his eyes and knew where he was going, and it just happened.”
The Raiders scored their first points shortly afterwards in the form of a rushing touchdown from Jared Lucero, taking a seven point lead in the early minutes of a half that began with them kicking off. They didn’t stop there.
Corrigan led an aggressive defensive effort by the Raiders, adding a pair of sacks to his interception and not allowing a single positive yardage play by the Longhorns (0-7, 0-2 Region 5-7A) until after a 21-0 North lead, which they managed in the first quarter.
Led by quarterback Brady Meitz, the Raider offense notched those 21 first-quarter points before ever losing yardage on any single play.
“Overall we just had mismatches,” Meitz said. “We connected as an offense and put it together pass-wise, run-wise and did what we needed to do.”
North’s use of mismatches was effectively creative and evenly balanced, with Meitz finishing his night with 244 yards on 22 passes with two picks, while connecting with seven different receivers. Lucero led an effective running game, gaining 73 yards on 15 carries, a pair of touchdowns and consistently picking up first downs in short yardage situations. The Raider offense outgained their hosts to the tune of 380 yards to 169. Aside from a pair of significant North mistakes, the Lambert offense failed to ever truly put together a complete drive.
One such mistake came on what began as one of North’s most explosive plays of the game, with Meitz finding tight end Anthony Herock for what appeared to be a 59-yard touchdown reception, but was thwarted by a last second block in the back inside of the ten yard line. On the very next play, Lambert middle linebacker Drew Surio intercepted Meitz’s pass and returned it all the way to the North 9-yard line. That essentially created a 14 point swing thanks to the ensuing Lambert score, providing the first spark of any kind for the home team.
Lambert’s only other score came on what began as a well defended play by the Raider defense. Longhorn receiver Kojo Antwi, whom North had made a point of bracketing for the majority of the game, caught a ball in double coverage, bounced off two would-be tacklers and sprinted the 55 yards to paydirt.
Overall, though, the Raiders left little doubt as to the eventual outcome and to their shared place in front of the region standings, keeping their perfect region record intact and serving Lambert their fifth loss by three scores or more.