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Football: North Forsyth outlasts Shiloh in region thriller
North Forsyth graphic 09-23-22

Down 34-21 to Shiloh with 8:05 to go in the fourth quarter and without concrete answers for Generals quarterback Jeremiah Harden and his fleet of wideouts and running backs, it would have been easy for North Forsyth to fold things up and start thinking about its next game.

But not this crew.

"The heart of our guys is what I'm so proud about," North head coach Robert Craft said after his team scored the last 21 points of the game and gutted out a wild 42-34, come-from-behind win. "There were several times throughout the game where they could have laid down, stopped, gotten frustrated. But our word for the week was 'relentless,' meaning that nothing gets in our way. The guys just had a relentless attitude, through some adversity they weren't going to stop playing."

North Forsyth celebration 09-23-22
North Forsyth's Logan Curry (9) celebrates one of his three touchdowns against Shiloh Friday in Raider Valley. (Photo by Robin Patterson)
Shiloh (1-4, 0-2 Region 8-6A) had both 12 and then 13-point leads in the second half, and the Generals' speed and physicality was taking its toll on the Raiders' offense and bench, as the home team found itself playing a lot of guys in a bruising affair for both teams.

When the Generals weren't playing hard-hitting ball, they were using a group of athletic skill-position players to keep the Raiders defense guessing all night long. Harden didn't throw for a particularly high percentage, but he made a slew of big plays on his way to a four-TD pass evening.

"They're super-talented," Craft said. "They played a really good non-region schedule, they were a second-round playoff team last year, so knew they'd come in here and really put up a battle. They were gonna make some plays."

Compared to the second half, a somewhat pedestrian first 24 minutes ended with Shiloh up 18-14, as Harden threw a pair of TD passes and Mekai Phillips added a 2-yard plunge.

They grabbed the lead after Raiders QB West Roberts threw his second interception of the first half, setting up a short field for Harden and mates to go to work with 1:37 left.

The North Forsyth connection of Roberts and wide receiver Logan Curry accounted for the two North scores, one on a 9-yard screen and the other on a 34-yard strike.

Things quieted some in the third quarter until the 7:35 mark, as Shiloh took advantage of two big pass interference calls that spirited the visitors along. The long drive started on their own 35, culminating with Harden TD pass No. 3, this one a 13-yarder to Nazir Griffin. They added the 2-point conversion for a 26-14 lead.

A possession each finished out the third quarter, opening the door for the final stanza craziness.

The Generals were moving again early into the fourth, and Shiloh got the ball down to the North 25-yard line. But after a failed fourth-down conversion, the Generals gave the ball back to the Raiders (4-2, 2-0).

Roberts found his favorite target Curry again, this time for a monster 59-yard TD reception as he got loose on the post route and outran the secondary to the end zone.

Momentum looked to be switching a bit, with the Raiders now down only 26-21, but Shiloh responded with a 10-play drive aided by a North facemask penalty, along with two big plays through the air from Harden to Griffin and then to Jamir Imuzai.

Harden polished off the drive with a 1-yard fade pass to Brice Pollock, and after another successful 2-point conversion, it was 34-21 with just over 8 minutes left.

But North was relentless indeed, as it took just two plays to drive it right down the field. The big one was a Roberts-to-Zach Shirley completion for 77 yards with again some great work by Raider wideouts to shake free, bringing the ball all the way down to the Generals 3-yard line.

Collin Miller barreled in for the score on the next play, and with the kick, it was quickly 34-28 and only 28 seconds had come off the clock.

It took another heady relentless-type play to keep things rolling in the right direction for North, this one by the defense.

After Harden completed a big third-and-long conversion, which got the visitors into Raiders territory and might have turned the lights out on some other groups, he made a mistake and tried to force the ball into one of his fleet-footed targets.

But sophomore Colton Constable swiped the pass at the 20-yard line, setting up North with 5:54 to go in the game. 

The next drive saw Miller tote the rock, taking direct snaps nine times out of a full-house formation, with three offensive linemen in the backfield leading the way. The Raiders sought to both run down the clock and wear down an active but waning Generals defense.

But it wasn't easy, and the clock had run all the way down inside two minutes with the ground-heavy approach. Shiloh found its grit and held, forcing a fourth-and-9 from the Generals' 23-yard line.

That's when relentlessness turned into creativity.

Craft and his staff used misdirection, rolling Roberts out to his right with an aggressively pursuing General defense following. 

Slipping out of the backfield the other way was sophomore running back Karson McBrayer, and Roberts found him in stride. McBrayer trotted his way into the end zone for the 34-34 tie, and a successful PAT suddenly had the home team in front 35-34.

"They were playing man coverage most of the night, and we felt we could get the back out of the backfield, and that's we did," Craft said of what ended up being the game-winning play. "It's tough to account for the back in man coverage. We had great protection by the offensive line and a great throw by our quarterback."

The way Shiloh was throwing the ball with Harden meant the game was far from over, but they struggled all day with shotgun snaps. And on a fourth-and-10 with 1:38 left, one got way from Harden and bounced around until North's Chris Herock grabbed the ball and made his way into the end zone for a 42-34 lead.

Things were happening so quickly, there was still life for Shiloh. However, Raiders DB C.J. Lenyszyn picked off Harden with 47.6 seconds left, and that finally sealed it.