By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
The North Forsyth football team’s 48-47 overtime loss to Kennesaw Mountain on Friday had an appropriately frenzied end.
With the score locked at 41, Kennesaw’s Keyon Brooks took the handoff on the second play of overtime and darted his way to the end zone and the Mustangs’ seventh lead of the night.
Two plays later, North quarterback Carter Mullikin received the snap, plunged forward, and for the seventh time, the Raiders responded.
The pair of 2-1 teams spent the majority of their first meeting in an offensive shootout that saw 927 total yards, 14 touchdowns and only three punts.
After playing catch-up throughout the majority of regulation play, the Raiders clawed their way to their opponent’s 28 with under three seconds to play and a chance at their first and potentially final lead of the game.
A failed-field goal attempt and a losing coin-toss later, the Raiders once again found themselves playing catch-up, yet once again the North offense willed their way within an extra point of their opponent.
With a clean snap, hold and kick, the Raiders appeared on all accounts to have managed their seventh comeback of the night—then came the flags and whistles. An offsides call on North Forsyth forced a re-kick from five yards back.
North’s Thor Billstrom approached, kicked, and on first-look appeared to have successfully repeated his initial attempt.
The sidelines waited, the crowds waited, and for a brief and final moment of what had largely been a raucous evening, there was silence.
With the dual, horizontal “no-good” hand gestures by the referees, the silence was broken.
Despite answering all seven of Kennesaw’s scores, the Raiders would finish one point short.
“I think, overall, we lacked some discipline tonight with some penalties and a lot of missed tackles,” North head coach Robert Craft said. “The last play doesn’t win or lose a game.”
North finished the night with six penalties for a total of 45 yards, yet the missed tackles unfortunately came in droves.
Brooks dodged, darted and bounced off tackle after would-be-tackle to the tune of five touchdowns, 222 rushing yards and an additional 73 receiving yards on three catches.
In the passing game, Kennesaw’s UGA-committed tight end Ryland Goede did his own damage, with the 6-foot-7, 235-pound senior adding 45 yards on five catches and a pair of touchdowns.
“They’re tough to get ready for,” Kraft said. “They’re so explosive in so many ways. Their running back’s a great player, the tight end, the O-line—so they presented a big challenge for us.”
The Raiders put forth a few challenges of their own.
In his first go as a running back after a season-ending injury to starter Bryson Trigg, Senior Honus Wagner continued what has been an extraordinarily effective offensive performance, with 192 yards on 25 carries and with three scores.
At the same time, the dual-threat Mullikin added to what has increasingly become an impressive senior year under center with 129 rushing yards of his own, while adding 52 yards on 13 passes.
“Those are two seniors are great leaders for us, and just continue to step up where we need them,” Craft said. “They would be the first to tell you that our offensive line, with the four seniors up there and one sophomore and our tight end, were a big credit to them. They played really, really hard and just continued to bounce back.”