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Football: North grinds out win over Johns Creek
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North Forsyth wide receiver Nicky Dalmolin (right) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Johns Creek on Aug. 25. - photo by Brian Paglia

It was a long night on Friday when the Johns Creek Gladiators came to Raider Valley. North Forsyth’s offense had a hard evening, running a total of 65 plays in their 28-6 win.

“Our offense is built for that” said North head coach Robert Craft said. “We want to play fast and run that play count.”

Everything started off hot for the Raiders. They forced Johns Creek into three straight three-and-outs to start the game and forced eight turnovers, five on downs.

“It’s huge when you can keep their offense off the field early in a game” Craft said. “It’s a true testament to our defense that they were able to almost shutout a team that won their region the previous year”

From start to end it was apparent Johns Creek’s offense struggled against North’s defense. The Gladiators struggled mightily to run the ball. It took them 35 rush attempts to only put up 94 yards as they were unable to get control of the trenches early. 

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North Forsyth quarterback Ben Bales makes a pass in a game against Johns Creek on Aug. 25, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia
Not only did the Raider front stand tall when the Gladiators ran the ball but almost every time junior quarterback Zach Gibson dropped back for a pass, he had three purple jerseys bearing down on top of him. He only completed 22 out of 43 passes and had two interceptions.

Even though Johns Creek could barely put points on the board, their offense still had some big drives. Later in the game, however, they ran out of downs three times in Raider territory, making them unable to get more points on the board.

The Raiders offense fired on all cylinders as senior QB Ben Bales set a new North Forsyth single-game passing record , tallying 408 yards through the air, with 298 yards coming in the first half. Along with Bales, sophomore WR Nicky Dalmolin had 191 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the night. Their offense went largely silent in the second half, though.

“As a team we need to become more consistent,” Craft said. “We need to be able to finish games.”

One of the issues that made it difficult for both teams was the constant stoppage of play for injuries. The game had to be stopped nine times so an injured player could be cared for and taken off the field. All but one of those players came back into the game: The only one who didn’t was senior tight end and captain Clayton Bardall. Bardall went down in first minute of the second quarter with an apparent foot or ankle injury which seemed minor at first, but later in the game Bardall was helped to the locker room, where we returned from later in an athletic tape cast on crutches.

“All we can do is hope it’s nothing too serious,” Craft said. “He’s one of our captains, and he’s a great leader. I would hate for his season to already have ended.”

North Forsyth (1-1) is looking to ride the great play of Bales, as the Raiders now focus all of their attention to non-region opponent Loganville (0-1) this Friday in Coal Mountain.