North Forsyth’s playoff hopes ended on Friday night as Milton came away with a 38-15 win on the road in Cumming.
North (4-5, 1-4) and Milton (5-5, 3-2) entered this game in a winner-take-all contest to see who could snatch the fourth and final playoff spot for Region 5-7A, but the Raiders came up short.
“We could’ve played better but we tried our hardest,” North senior wide receiver Simon Holcomb said. “I can’t really think that good right now. It could’ve been better, but I love my team and we tried our best.”
North’s offense didn’t do much of anything in the first half, totaling just 66 total yards, and 52 of those came on one drive. Six of the Raiders’ seven first half drives ended in punts, and five of those drives went three-and-out. The only drive that didn’t end in a punt was because the first half ended.
“Unfortunately tonight we came out a little slow and we couldn’t match the intensity that Milton had up front,” North head coach Robert Craft said. “But our guys fought all the way to the fourth quarter.”
Holcomb came in at quarterback on the Raiders’ only promising drive in the first half, running for three first downs on five carries, but the drive stalled after a penalty and a couple negative plays.
The Eagles made a lot of big plays and the Raiders could not find an answer for their rushing attack.
Milton’s five touchdowns came on plays of 27, 44, 38, 71, and 60 yards. They racked up 390 yards of total offense, including 269 on the ground. Soloman Vanhorse gashed the Raider defense for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Holcomb was the Raiders’ offense in this game. He finished the game with 110 yards rushing and with 30 seconds remaining took a punt return 43 yards for a touchdown to try to keep the Raiders’ hopes alive late in the ballgame.
“For him to return a punt there in the fourth quarter it really sums up his career,” Craft said. “The guy plays lights out. He carried us offensively, whether it’s playing quarterback, wide receiver, throwing a pass. He practices hard and it’s a show of what he’s done this year. I’m just really, really proud of what he’s done, and he’s got a lot to look forward to. His football career is not over.”
The Raiders showed a lot of improvement in the second half, tallying 191 yards and seven first downs, compared to just three first downs in the first half. They had two deep drives in the fourth quarter, but each of them ended in interceptions inside the 5-yard line.
“I thought we fought hard,” North senior Bradley Thomas said. “It meant a lot for us our last game at home. I think we showed improvement from two weeks before this. We didn’t give up after getting blown out by West and South. We kinda got our heads down a little bit, but we got them back up tonight and played hard. I was proud of our team.”
While it’s not the end result they were looking for, Craft is proud of his team and his first year at North Forsyth.
“I’m proud of our 21 seniors,” Craft said. “They have a lot to be proud of. They laid a great foundation here that we believe is the start of a program here. I’m disappointed we didn’t extend our season tonight, but we’re trying to build a football program, we’re taking great steps there. Our administration is behind us, these seniors have laid an outstanding foundation and we’re gonna have a lot of big years going forward.”