Isaiah Williams wanted to send South Forsyth’s seniors out on a win, and he made it happen.
The junior ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, as South finished the regular season with a 35-14 victory over rival North Forsyth on Friday at War Eagle Field.
"It’s hard seeing these seniors go," Williams said. "I’ve been looking up to them since freshman year, so I’m happy that we did what we could and came out with a big win.
"Honestly, I wasn’t keeping count of [my rushing yards]. I was just trying to make these seniors look as good as possible."
With the score tied 14-14, Williams burst between the tackles for a six-yard touchdown run as the third quarter expired to cap a six-play, 72-yard drive in two minutes and thirty-five seconds.
North took the ball to its own 29 on the kickoff, but three consecutive running plays put the Raiders in fourth-and-3. The Raiders tried to catch South off guard with a fake punt run, but they came up one yard short, giving the ball to the War Eagles on the 38.
South (4-6, 1-6 Region 6-AAAAAA) took advantage of the short field with five straight runs from Williams before Brett Larkin bulldozed his way into the end zone from three yards out to make the score 28-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
"Our offensive line played so good tonight," South head coach Jeff Arnette said. "Isaiah ran the ball great and he had a great night, but if you’re a fullback and you got holes that big, your offensive line is playing pretty dadgum good. And they did. They played really good."
The defense did its part, too.
On North’s next possession, senior linebacker Mickey Thomas picked off North quarterback Harris Roberts (9-of-20, 118 passing yards, INT) and returned it 63 yards to make the final score 35-14.
The War Eagles’ defense held North to 153 yards of offense in the second half and finished the game with three sacks.
"We played real tough," Thomas said. "We wanted to come out and do the best we could. We all wanted to play hard and go out on something big, so we gave it all we got."
Senior quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey, who hadn’t played since Week 7 with an injured shoulder, started for the War Eagles. Jeffrey finished the night going 5-for-7 with one interception and 54 passing yards.
On South’s second possession in the first quarter, Williams took the handoff from Jeffrey and scored the game’s first touchdown on a seven-yard run. Brandon McKee came on to kick the extra point to give South an early 7-0 lead.
Williams made his way into the end zone for the second time on a 17-yard rumble that finished a six-play, 80-yard drive to give the War Eagles a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Raiders (3-7, 0-7) strung together their own 80-yard drive, as Nick Scott (23 carries, 100 rushing yards, TD) scored on a one-yard run up the middle, cutting the lead to 14-7 with 2:33 left in the first half.
North knotted the score at 14-14 with 2:37 left in the third quarter when Justin Stanley bullied his way into the end zone with a one-yard run, but it was the last time the Raiders scored.
The North defense forced three fumbles and one interception, but the offense didn’t score any points off turnovers.
"… Our starting linebacker went out in the first quarter," North head coach Blair Armstrong said. "We got a lot of injuries this year, a lot of young kids having to play and step up, and it kind of showed up tonight.
"They fought hard and the defense did a good job early. We punted a lot in the first half and you can’t do that and win a football game."
The win snapped a two-game losing streak to the Raiders, who the War Eagles hadn’t played since 2009, and gave them their first region win to close out the season.
"You’d think it’d get easier, but it don’t," Arnette said. "This is [the 22nd season] I’ve done this and it seems to get harder, just a great bunch of kids.
"It’s a close bunch …All of the things that went wrong, and these kids come back and just play their guts out no matter what. You have to appreciate that. … It’s tough losing them."