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Football: Josh Nelson breaks out despite scrimmage loss to North Gwinnett
South Forsyth players, from left, Brock Ferrell, Maverick Schippman, Josh Nelson, Austin Uidel and Cal Jacchia celebrate Friday after Nelson's fumble recovery during a scrimmage against North Gwinnett. - photo by David Roberts

South Forsyth has speed at just about every position. 

Sure, the War Eagles' running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs are quick, but not many punters run the 100-meter dash in 10.60 seconds like Chris Nelson.

"It's probably the fastest overall team that we've had since I've been here, just position for position," South head coach Troy Morris said. "We've got a lot of guys that we rotated in tonight that can run. When you have that many guys that can run, it makes it tough on defenses."

That speed was on display Friday night during a 41-21 scrimmage loss to North Gwinnett. Nelson caught four passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, flying through the Bulldogs' secondary on each occasion to track down quarterback Ty Watkins' deep touchdown passes.

"He had a heckuva game, but we've got a number of guys," Morris said. "This week it was Josh, next week it may be Chris, his brother, and next week it may be somebody else. Every week it might be somebody different. Tonight it was Josh's turn. With the way the defense was playing us, tonight it was Josh. He got some one-on-one matchups. He's hard to stop, and we've got a number of guys who are hard to stop one-on-one. Ty did a good job putting it on him."

Watkins finished 19 of 30 for 268 yards and three total touchdowns in three quarters of play. Watkins was dialed in during the third quarter, when he completed 9 of 10 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

His third pass of the night was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Kenan Holmes, but Watkins was quick to bounce back.

"I thought that he had a couple of moments that weren't quite like we want with our execution and stuff like that, but I love how he battled back," Morris said. "He made a mistake or two, then he battled back and made some great plays after that. That's what I preach to the guys. When you make a mistake, I want to see how you respond to it. I thought our team responded so well coming out in the second half."

Watkins knotted the game 7-7 two drives later, when his 1-yard TD plunge capped a four-play, 53-yard scoring drive. 

The drive started after Josh Nelson stripped the ball away from Jayson Gilliom and recovered it at the 47-yard line. Seconds later, Nelson hauled in a 46-yard strike in the middle of the field to give the War Eagles first-and-goal.

"I thought we looked good a lot of the time," Morris said. "I probably should have ran the ball a little bit more, but when we did open it up and throw it, I thought we did a good job. We broke down in protection a time or two, but it's just a scrimmage and we're going to have that. On a couple of the routes, it wasn't quite like we wanted them — not at the right depths and things like that. Overall, I was pleased. I really was."

Running back Gavin Morris earned three of the War Eagles' first four carries of the game but left shortly after and was sporting a sling on the sidelines. 

South finished with 66 rushing yards on 25 carries, led by Blaylen Lomax's seven carries for 24 yards.

"[Austin] Uidel jumped in there. He ran the ball hard. Lomax had some nice runs tonight," Morris said. "We've got a sophomore that might fit in there if Gavin ain't ready. Hopefully, Gavin is fine and we'll be ready to go for next week, I hope."

South had a pair of sophomores shine in the fourth quarter, after the starters had been pulled. Cole Yeager had three carries for 14 yards, while Baylor Duncan had one carry for four yards and turned a swing pass into a 17-yard gain. 

Watkins spread the ball to 10 different receivers Friday night, with Chris Nelson, Josh Nelson, Cade Yeager, Zach Hobson, Josh Pehrson, James Margiotta, Mason Capers, Justin Tyre, Austin Uidel and Brock Ferrell catching at least one pass.

South will open the season next week at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Roswell.