North Forsyth 19, Forsyth Central 6
Forsyth Central 0 6 0 0_6
North Forsyth 13 0 0 6_19
NF_FG Whitten 42, 5:51
NF_FG Whitten 42, 4:36
NF_Miller 60 punt return (Whitten kick), 2:14
FC_Diebel 29 run (kick missed), 1:34
NF_Irvin 4 run (kick missed), 5:58
Colton Miller could hardly believe his eyes.
The North Forsyth senior receiver fielded a short line-drive punt on one bounce, lifted his head—and saw nothing but green. Without breaking stride, Miller ran nearly untouched for a 60-yard touchdown, giving the Raiders a 13-0 lead. It was all the cushion they needed in a 19-6 scrimmage win over Forsyth Central Friday at Raider Valley.
"Special teams were our Achilles heel last year, so I was very pleased with that return," North head coach Jason Galt said. "I just hope we didn’t use it all up in a scrimmage game."
North took up more than six minutes on the game’s opening possession. Junior quarterback Jacob Bailey (3-for-6, 52 yards) found Miller (three catches, 52 yards) for a 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-15 to extend the drive, but the Raiders settled for a 42-yard field goal from Jacob Whitten.
Central got off to an inauspicious start when junior quarterback Aubrey Blackmon fumbled the Bulldogs’ first snap. North again could only manage a 42-yard field goal from Whitten after junior running back Jesus Torres lost four yards on 3rd-and-1.
With his offense failing to gain any traction, Central head coach Shane Williamson replaced Blackmon with 6-foot-4 junior Trey Abercrombie. The Bulldogs responded by marching 76 yards in 12 plays, capped by Shaun Diebel’s 29-yard touchdown run. Diebel led Central with 67 yards on 13 carries.
"We couldn’t get anything going in the first quarter," Williamson said. "As a team, when you haven’t had much success, you don’t know how to come out and control a game. I felt we were sitting back, trying to feel our way through the early stages. We were having quarterback-center exchange problems. Trey [Abercrombie] stepped in and shined a little bit for us."
Abercrombie led Central on a methodical drive to begin the second half. The Bulldogs should have gone three-and-out, but punter Pierce Nufer corralled a bad snap on 4th-and-6 and ran off right tackle for a 14-yard gain. Central reached the Raiders’ 23-yard line before North defensive end Matthew Shirley dropped Abercrombie for an eight-yard loss on third down.
North sealed the win with just under six minutes left and mostly reserves remaining in the contest. Whitten pinned Central at its own eight-yard line with a 29-yard punt. The Bulldogs gained nine yards on three plays, but North stuffed a run up the middle on 4th and 1. Five plays later, sophomore running back James Irvin plunged in from four yards out.
Both Williamson and Galt echoed the same sentiment: much work is left to do before the two teams begin regular season play Aug. 29.
"I thought defensively we did a pretty good job," Galt said. "We gave up that one touchdown but thanks to some missed some tackles; that probably shouldn’t have happened. We’ve got to get better at communication, but that’s fixable."
Central finished with 160 yards rushing on 40 attempts. The Bulldogs did not attempt a single pass.
Williamson remained upbeat.
"I’m real proud of our defense. They got put in some bad situations in the first quarter, so to hold them to two field goals and a special teams touchdown was impressive," Williamson said. "We came back and we didn’t just fall apart after that. Now we have some film that we can go and look at, but I didn’t see anything out there that we can’t fix. We can be a competitive football team if we stick together."
Pierce Nufer, who Williamson called the Bulldogs’ ‘Ironman,’ finished with two sacks.
North travels to Hart County next Friday for their final scrimmage before visiting Cherokee for their season opener. Central opens their regular season with a home date against Class AAA Dawson County Aug. 29.