Kyle Durham had just gotten back on the field. The way he saw it, there was no way he was coming off of it.
So after Durham took a brutal hit on a 5-yard scamper Friday night, South Forsyth’s sophomore quarterback popped up, jogged back to the huddle and found fellow sophomore Gavin Morris on the next play, a 28-yard catch-and-run on third-and-6 that put the War Eagles at West Forsyth’s 4-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Three plays later, Durham followed 6-foot-5, 290-pound left tackle Bryce Cockfield into the end zone on a 1-yard QB sneak on fourth-and-goal to give South a 14-10 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
Senior Jax Weaver picked off West quarterback Drew Southern to end the game.
“I didn’t think they actually scored, but I’m not the official, so it’s not up to me,” West Forsyth coach Shawn Cahill said.
Durham was denied on his first try, a 4-yard run on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. But that set up the War Eagles on the 6-inch line, where Durham fell into the end zone after fumbling the ball.
“I did get in,” Durham said. “I fumbled, but I got in. I did.”
Durham broke his hand in September but was cleared to play earlier this week.
The game-winning play came with Durham taking the snap from under center, a rarity for a South offense that operates almost exclusively out of the shotgun.
“It was my first under-center snap with my hand, so I dropped it, I recaught it and then got back in – barely,” Durham said. “It was close.”
West Forsyth briefly took the lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when junior Alex Wilson converted a 39-yard field goal with 4:12 remaining, no simple task given the near-freezing conditions.
But South engineered an 84-yard scoring drive in response, which featured a 41-yard jump ball from Durham to senior Cameron Schurr.
West started the scoring in the second quarter when junior Daba Fofana put the Wolverines up 7-0 with a 4-yard plunge into the end zone.
Fofana led West on the ground with 72 yards and the score on 12 carries.
On West’s first drive after halftime, however, Morris made a spectacular one-handed interception, catching Southern’s pass and returning it 52 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
“He didn’t practice all week,” Arnette said of Morris. “He’s got a deep-thigh bruise, and we didn’t even know if he was going to play. We started playing him and he just made some unbelievable plays. He almost scored down here on the pass, and then he made the pick-six – it was a great play.”
The two teams combined for nine turnovers. West junior Kobe Haynes forced a fumble in the third quarter, junior Hudson Posey forced another a few plays later, and junior Dalton Tjong made his county-leading fifth interception in the fourth quarter.
South Forsyth (6-4, 3-2 Region 5-7A) finishes third in the region and will travel to Norcross next Friday in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, while West Forsyth (4-5, 3-2 Region 5-7A) falls to fourth place and will face Parkview next week.
“It’s good to be back there, honestly,” Durham said. “Eight weeks of being out. It’s good to be back.”