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Football: West Roberts tosses 4 touchdowns to fuel Raiders past Bulldogs
North Forsyth TD 08-26-22
North Forsyth's Logan Curry, left, points at teammate Aiden Ruckh following a touchdown catch by Ruckh during a 35-7 win Friday at Forsyth Central. (Photo by Robin Patterson)

Last week, North Forsyth failed to take advantage of turnovers in the second quarter during a loss to North Atlanta. In a matchup Friday at rival Forsyth Central, the Raiders turned the tables, making some big defensive stands to flip the momentum in a 35-7 win against the Bulldogs.

"One of the things we didn't do last week was end the first half or start the second half very well," North Forsyth head coach Robert Craft said. "That was a goal we talked about all week."

Things were not looking good on that front for the first six minutes of the second quarter.

During that stretch, Forsyth Central (1-1) tied the score at 7-7 on a 1-yard touchdown by Jayce Todaro out of the Wildcat formation. The Bulldogs then forced a turnover on downs at the Raiders 29-yard line, and despite not being able to score off of it, Forsyth Central followed that up with an interception of West Roberts by Todaro at the North Forsyth 25-yard line.

"We thought it would start like that in a big rivalry game like this," Craft said. "Coach [David] Rooney always does a great job getting his team ready to play. I'm really proud of how our guys were able to settle through some of that early emotion."

However, that drive resulted in no points either for the hosts. They were made to pay.

"The defense pulled the offense out of a few bad situations there with the turnover on downs and the interception," Craft said. "They did a great job."

Roberts bounced back from throwing the interception to complete five straight passes, including two touchdowns, over the final five minutes of the first half.

Admittedly, the senior didn't have to do much on the first one, as Karson McBrayer took a screen pass 70 yards to the house. The Raiders next possession saw Roberts complete passes of 25, 15 and 20 yards, respectively. The final of which resulted in a touchdown catch by Aiden Ruckh.

Forsyth Central nearly cut into the lead in the waning moments of the first half. Justin Taylor broke off a 60-yard run, but again, the North Forsyth defense stood tall, forcing a field goal attempt that the Raiders managed to block.

"We missed opportunities in the first half to keep the game close, keep it competitive," Rooney said. "I thought we would come out after halftime and get a good stop on their first drive. Give credit to North, they executed a great game plan."

Instead of getting that stop to give its offense a chance to make it a one-score game, Forsyth Central soon found itself down 28 points.

Roberts hooked up with Ruckh again — this time on a 9-yard score — less than two minutes into the third quarter. Following a Bulldogs fumble, the Raiders (1-1) promptly scored another touchdown, with Roberts finding a wide-open Zach Shirley in the middle of the end zone for a 19-yard TD.

"Part of it was us not dialing up enough blitzes like we had in the game plan and getting more pressure on them," Rooney said of North Forsyth's passing game success. "Part of it was good route-running and good throws.

"We have some things we need to work on before next week."

Overall, Roberts finished 19-for-24 with 258 passing yards and the four scores.

"West did a great job of taking what the defense gave him," Craft said. "When we had some shots down the field, we got them. When it was just checkdowns, he took the checkdowns."

North Forsyth's first touchdown came at the midway point of the first quarter, courtesy of the rushing attack. McBrayer broke off a 32-yard run on the team's opening series, and Collin Miller, who scored thrice versus North Atlanta, rumbled in from 6 yards out.

"Winning on the road is hard," Craft said. "We had to open with, counting our scrimmage, three straight ones on the road. All summer we talked about that.

"We needed to get that bad taste out after losing in such a tough way last week. To come back and play such a dominant three quarters of football, physically, especially here, I thought was great."

After a pair of home games to begin the season, Forsyth Central will see how hard it is to win on the road next week, when the Bulldogs travel to Etowah. The matchup offers bounce-back potential, but Rooney admits it will take a much better performance than Forsyth Central offered up Friday night to end August on a winning note.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Rooney said. "It always is with North. These kids know each other. It's a rival.

"This is kind of a shock to me, to be honest. We were expecting a much tighter game. They made more plays that we did tonight, a lot more plays. Give credit to coach Craft and those guys over there."