COVINGTON — Jeff Arnette is still trying to figure out how Kyle Durham completed that pass.
Ask Durham, and it's simple.
"I just saw Mitch come open late and I saw that backer coming," he said, "so I just flipped my hips and got it out as quick as I could."
Durham took the snap and dropped back, cut back toward the line to avoid and Alcovy defender, then weaved through the pocket to avoid another. Rolling to his left, and with a linebacker within breathing distance, Durham squared his shoulders and found a wide-open Mitch Thompson, who raced down the South Forsyth sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
It was the first of two touchdown passes between the War Eagles' electrifying pair, as South pummeled Alcovy 39-7 Friday night.
"We talked about it all week — that's what we call a trap game; they talk about it on ESPN," Arnette said. "We started talking about it on Monday, had a big region game before we played them, and in two weeks we've got West, which is a huge game. We just challenged our kids to stay focused."
South's first drive hardly went according to plan.
Running back Tre Green took the first carry of the game and ended up on the wrong end of an awkward tackle, as Alcovy linebacker Caleb Brown forced the fumble, then sent Green head-first into the grass.
Green didn't return to the game and had a bag of ice on his neck throughout the contest.
A block in the back on the next play wiped out a 34-yard pass to Devin McGlockton, then a sack and a delay of game penalty had the War Eagles facing third-and-36 on their opening drive.
But a quick three-and-out by South's defense gave the War Eagles the ball back and allowed Durham to find Thompson on that 80-yard strike.
On the following possession, Durham hit Thompson again on a 30-yard TD throw and gave South a 14-0 lead. The score was set up by a 19-yard pass to McGlockton, who made an incredible play on the Alcovy sideline, using his height to high-point the ball with one hand over the defender.
Durham finished the game 11-of-17 passing for 240 yards, with two scores, as well as seven completions for 198 yards, going to Thompson.
South's defense was just as impressive.
In fact, Alcovy's lone score came after a mishandled punt gave the Tigers first-and-10 on South's 31-yard line, though the War Eagles forced them to convert two fourth-down plays to do so.
Josh Nelson's 3-yard tackle for loss had the Tigers facing fourth-and-11, but a 19-yard pass from QB Ashton Evans to Mathias Height gave Alcovy a first down, then a 4-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Armani Russ on fourth-and-goal gave the Tigers their first score of the game.
Alcovy didn't pass midfield for the rest of the game, and a blocked punt by Julian Bolanos that was returned for a touchdown by Jonathan Hass allowed South to take a 20-7 lead into halftime.
South ran the ball eight times in the first half, with five ending with a loss of yards. Arnette used halftime to challenge his offensive line.
"I didn't feel like up front on the offensive line we played as big early," he said. "At halftime, we challenged them, and as you saw in the third quarter, they were moving the pile. The offensive line really responded to a good butt-chewing — a good, old-fashioned butt-chewing. They came out and moved the line and really played much better in the second half."
The result was a 142-yard rushing performance in the second half, led by several different backs.
Gavin Morris scored on a 33-yard counter play, then Blaylen Lomax scored a 7-yard touchdown, which was set up by Alex Han's 33-yard sprint. Han had a 21-yard touchdown run called back in the third quarter because of a holding call.
"I don't ever want to make an excuse, but when you lose your dog at tailback on the first play, it's never good," Arnette said. "And I don't know if that's what had us reeling a little bit in the running game, but once we got it established, (Alex) Han ran it really well. Him and Gavin made some big plays at tailback. Even (Tabor) Fleming stepped in there late in the game and got a big run. Fleming's going to be a player for us someday, I'm sure of it."
South's defense also forced a safety for the third time this season, and defensive end Ben Harvey had a pair of sacks.
Harvey entered Friday's game tied for the team lead in sacks after getting to the quarterback twice last week against Lambert.
"Ben Harvey gets better every week," Arnette said. "Ben was a guy we challenged to increase his motor and all those things early on, and I"m telling you, he seems to get better every week. (Bryce) Myers is good up front; we've got (Ian) O'Dowd, Taft (Hilton) and Tabor. I mean, we've got a lot of kids who can play up front. Our whole defense played really well tonight."
Davis Little also had a 21-yard field goal for the War Eagles.
South entered the game averaging 52 points per game, the highest mark by any Class 7A team.
"It's just our team," Durham said. "We're just a really close-knit team. All of us are close — not just with the receivers. The whole offense and the whole defense, we're all just a really tight bunch."
South played through several pop-up showers, and a light drizzle through much of the second half was hardly ideal for the War Eagles' potent aerial assault.
"We could have put up more, but we got a W and that's all that matters," Durham said. "Our O-line really put it together. We had a slow start, but they really started to play great and open up holes for us."