West Forsyth was approaching the red zone in a game that was tied at 13 and approaching the end.
With all momentum in favor of the Wolverines, Josie Crossman made one of the most important plays of the night, intercepting a pass and returning it to midfield. The pick set up the game-winning touchdown, which quarterback Ashley Chu threw to Drew Necaise with eight seconds left in the game.
The score gave South a 19-13 lead, which the the War Eagles held onto to win the game and the region.
Head coach Kassie Smith believes that the special connection the team has played a huge role in their success.
“I’ve been worked up, nervous for this game all week,” Smith said. “Super nervous for this game all day. I hope I didn’t let the girls feel that. A lot of them are just going out here and that’s what I love about the sport. Just their intense desire to spend time together. It is about the scoreboard at times, but I think they still would’ve had a great time and great memories. The senior memories, one of their best times is getting ice cream after beating Sequoyah and riding the bus to the Final Four. It’s not even on the field for them, and I think that’s the most special part about the sport. Bringing girls together that wouldn’t have united and become friends in school and giving them that common place to bond. Somewhere to plug in to and discover new passions that they just honestly never had the opportunity to before. So that’s kinda the big thing.
"Obviously, the end was fantastic. I feel like my voice is still crackling. I was yelling and jumping fist pumping and all of that. Storybook ending, I guess. Senior to senior. Late-game catch after we really couldn’t catch a ball all night. Kind of uncharacteristically so, but it was a win. I guess that’s all that matters when it comes down to it, but it’s not exactly how we would’ve drawn it up today.”
South trailed at halftime 7-6, with the only points coming on a pick-six from Mya Wende. Wende’s play in the first half ended up being vital to keeping South within striking distance.
“We played defense the whole first half,” Smith said. “We had possession once. I think defense did good kind of holding us down in the first half. I mean, they’re the only ones that put points on the scoreboard for us. I think that we were kinda shell shocked. They knew a lot was on the line. We lost to West last year in the Final Four, so I think it was just an emotional game, senior night. There was a lot going on. With that said, I think they bounced back in the second half. There was a couple big, key plays that I think kind of went our side in the second half, where they kind of went West’s way in the first half.”
West started off the scoring in the second half when Sara Lemley found Abbylin Laprise for a short touchdown that gave the Wolverines a 13-6 lead. But Chu responded, driving her team down the field and running in for a touchdown herself. She then found Delaney Pate for the tying point.
Lemley also had an interception to end the first half.
In the second game of the night, Lambert defeated Denmark 19-0. Lambert spent a lot of time in the red zone in the first half, but they were unable to put points on the board. In the second half, Kennedy Dean, Karlie Cabrera, and Kyia Wing each ran in a touchdown, and Dean for Wing for an extra point. Their second-half offensive explosion was set up by an interception from Cabrera that gave the Longhorns excellent field position.
To finish off the night, Central defeated North 21-0. Katie Robbins threw three touchdowns, two to Emily Caron and one to Sophia Engstrom, to lead the Bulldogs to victory. Robbins also threw two conversions to Abbie Flannigan and ran one in herself. The lone bright spot for North was an interception by Lauren Fields late in the first half.
With the regular season over, here’s how the season standings played out.
1. South Forsyth 4-1
2. Forsyth Central 4-1
3. West Forsyth 3-2
4. Lambert 3-2
5. North Forsyth 1-4
6. Denmark 0-5
The top four teams advance to the state playoffs, which will begin Nov. 30. Last season, West Forsyth took home the state championship trophy.