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Football: Denmark moves into first place with win at South
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Denmark running back Amon Williams, right, stiff-arms Jonathan Haas during Friday's 17-14 win over South Forsyth. Photo by Lily McGregor Photography

South Forsyth had just over two minutes to get into field-goal range.

Jyi'qez Green returned Trey Glymph's punt to the 21-yard line, and the War Eagles were tasked with flipping the field and getting kicker Tyler Simpson close enough to attempt a potential game-tying field goal. 

Gavin Morris caught a screen pass on second down, shook off a defender and rumbled 19 yards to give the War Eagles first-and-10 from their own 40-yard line.

South never gained another yard, though, as Denmark's defense forced four straight incompletions by Ty Watkins to hang on and capture a 17-14 win Friday at War Eagle Stadium.

"We're confident in our defense," Denmark coach Mike Palmieri said. "We've been doing it all year. We kind of had a little letdown to give them that 14, but if we're ahead and we've got our defense on the field, we're confident."

A 48-yard TD pass from Jacob Nelson to Lake Thoman gave the Danes a 17-7 lead with 0:13 left in the third quarter, but South managed to make it a one-score game when Watkins scored on a 1-yard TD run. 

South's scoring drive started at the 21-yard line, and after back-to-back passes to Josh Nelson — one for 34 yards and another for 8 yards — Watkins hit Chris Nelson for 14 yards, then carried the ball down to the goal line on a 17-yard scramble.

Watkins' 1-yard plunge made it 17-14 with 2:30 left in the game.

Denmark began the ensuing drive at the 48-yard line, and on first down, South linebacker Jonathan Haas dished a vicious hit in the backfield to drop Amon Williams for a 2-yard loss. South, in possession of all three timeouts, stopped the clock after the first-down run, then again on Williams' 5-yard second-down run and once more after Williams' third-down run that set up a fourth-and-7.

South had managed the clock perfectly, allowing the Danes to burn just 24 seconds.

But the Danes' front four applied the pressure throughout South's final drive, and linebacker Dee Crayton matched Gavin Morris step for step on Watkins' fourth-down throw that Morris seemed to spot a millisecond too late.

The win gives Denmark sole possession of first place in Region 6-7A.

"As the season goes on and we get to play in these great games, it's a monster win for the kids and the coaches," Palmieri said.

Edge rusher Charley Croiner led a spirited effort by the Danes' front seven, sacking Watkins twice in the first half. Asher West also had a sack, while William Hodges had a pair of stops in the backfield and Treston Jordan picked off a pass. 

Nelson completed 18 of 29 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Nelson also had a 9-yard TD pass to Lane Grayson right after half to cap a nine-play, 78-yard scoring drive.

He opened the game 9-of-12 passing for 80 yards and an interception that Josh Nelson caught off a tip. Nelson had another interception when Ian O'Dowd jumped a screen pass and made the pick, but Denmark's sophomore QB bounced back to complete 5 of 6 passes during the Danes' scoring drive to open the second half.

"He's a sophomore, he's a leader and he's playing in monster games," Palmieri said. "We've got confidence in Jacob. You know, Jacob is a kid that's going to be a good football player for this program for years to come. 

Amon Williams carried the ball 32 times for 98 yards and accounted for all of Denmark's yards in the fourth quarter, carrying the ball 11 straight times.

Ty Watkins was 17-for-35 passing for 219 yards and the pick, adding 15 yards on the ground. 

"We wanted to keep him in the pocket," Palmieri said. "We wanted him to throw the ball, actually. They're so good up front. We're so smart. It's hard to screen us. They're just good football players."

Morris' 2-yard TD run accounted for South's first touchdown. Denmark held the War Eagles to just 34 yards rushing.

Mason Capers led South with six catches for 81 yards. 

Denmark [6-1, 4-0 Region 6-7A] has won six straight games and will travel to Gainesville Oct. 29, while South [6-2, 3-1 Region 6-7A] is in second and will host North Forsyth Oct. 29.