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Flag football: South Forsyth falls in Sweet 16; Forsyth Central reaches Elite 8
South Forsyth sophomore Josie Crossman carries the ball Tuesday during the War Eagles' 19-6 loss to Blessed Trinity in the Class 7A Sweet 16. - photo by David Roberts

Josie Crossman is one of the top softball pitchers in the county, but she seemed more like a centerfielder for much of South Forsyth's playoff appearance Tuesday evening.

Crossman played the role of ballhawking safety in the War Eagles' 18-0 first-round victory against Peachtree Ridge, accounting for two of South's four interceptions. Crossman added another in the following game, but the War Eagles fell to Blessed Trinity 19-6 to end their season in the Class 7A Sweet 16.

South, which clinched the region championship two weeks ago, hosted third-seeded Blessed Trinity after the Titans topped Pope in the first round.

Forsyth Central won both of its playoff games Tuesday, traveling to Creekview to beat Mountain View 24-6 in the first round, then the Grizzlies in the second round, 14-6.

Central QB Katie Robbins threw for four touchdowns and Marlee McAdam added two passing scores. Lisie Leitner hauled in four touchdown passes and two extra-point attempts. Robbins and Holland Moon accounted for the other two receiving touchdowns. 

Amelia Luke intercepted three passes and Ana Iglesias had multiple timely flag pulls for the Bulldogs.

Central will travel to Area 7-7A champion Archer at 7 p.m. Thursday for a chance at the Class 7A Final Four.

Third-seeded West Forsyth fell 7-6 to North Gwinnett at Hillgrove and fourth-seeded Lambert lost 12-0 to Mill Creek. 

West's score came on a 30-yard TD pass from Sara Lemley to Maren Parker. The Wolverines failed to convert the extra-point attempt.

South had plenty to cheer about against Peachtree Ridge.

Crossman's first interception set up a 21-yard TD run by Ashley Chu, then her second pick allowed Chu to find Cameron Brock in the end zone for a touchdown. Chu hit Brock earlier in the drive on a beautiful back-shoulder fade, and Brock's TD catch came on a 50-50 jump ball that South's freshman receiver caught off a deflection.

- photo by David Roberts

Drew Necaise also had an interception, which led to a TD pass from Chu to Mya Wende, then Chu added an interception of her own late in the second half.

"Chu is just an outstanding person," South coach Kassie Smith said. "She brings a gentle calmness to our team. She lights that fire and you can tell when she has the energy. Obviously, she's amazingly talented and shifty and speedy and deceptive. She can do anything she wants. We had her playing in a bunch of spots. She's irreplaceable, to be honest. You're going to be hard-pressed to find someone like her to come along again."

Blessed Trinity took a quick 7-0 lead in the second round when QB Maura Ryan hit Morgan Handzel over the middle for a TD, then found her again on the PAT.

South marched down the field in response, led by a couple of runs by Chu and catches from Crossman and Delaney Pate, but Riley Fleck intercepted Chu's pass around midfield to return the ball to the Titans.

However, on Blessed Trinity's first play of the ensuing drive, Chu picked off Ryan on a tipped pass to give South life.

Chu caught a pass from Cameron Brock, then found Crossman on a couple of clearout routes and hit Wende deep in Blessed Trinity territory to put the War Eagles within striking distance.

With the near the goal line, Chu took the snap and rolled to her right before passing to Wende again to make it 7-6. South's PAT failed.

South grabbed momentum when Ryan bowled over Pate on a QB keeper and was ejected from the game, but backup QB Julia Geis entered and immediately threw a deep TD pass to Carly Coopman on third down to make it 13-6.

Coopman picked off Chu on the ensuing drive, and the Titans were threatening to score, but Crossman collected her third interception of the game at the goal line to halt the drive.

"She's really taken to her role of safety," Smith said. "And, again, she's a brand-new player this year and we had her blocking, rushing, playing quarterback. So, we're trying to figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I think she's figuring out how to break to the ball and just read it a little bit better."

South ran three plays from the shadow of its of goal posts — including a near miss from Chu to Crossman on a deep ball — before punting from its own end zone. 

Geis engineered another scoring drive to put the game away, finding Francesca Procaccini on another TD pass to make it 19-6.

South will graduate three seniors: Chu, Necaise and Gracie Short.

"When I was giving the speech I wasn't ready to give tonight, I told them that all three of these seniors have been a tremendous part of the foundation of our program," Smith said. "They've all been through it from the very, very beginning. They're just a really special group. They're talented, but they're just better people."