South Forsyth bounced back from its first region loss with a 35-14 victory over Milton at home on Friday night.
South entered the game coming off of a 28-20 loss to rival Lambert, putting itself in an early hole for contention for a region title. To have a realistic chance of winning back-to-back region championships, the War Eagles need to win out. Their second region game of the season against Milton was no exception.
South (4-3, 1-1 Region 5-7A) came into Friday battling injuries to key players. Western Kentucky commit Davis Shanley did not practice all week while battling a back injury, and they were without defensive lineman Ryan LaFlamme.
“We had our back up against the wall if we wanted to finish with the possibility of winning the region championship,” South head coach Jeff Arnette said. “We won the region last year with one loss, so we are just hoping to get the chance to play for that thing again.”
Shanley’s back injury did not appear to affect his ability to run the football. On South’s first drive of the game, he took a quarterback draw up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown.
The War Eagles banked off their triple threat run game to move the ball. Their second scoring drive involved 10 running plays to three different carriers. Jared Honey smashed his way through the defense to cap off the drive with a 1-yard rush touchdown, giving South a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Honey also ran in a second touchdown in the third quarter which gave South a 21-7 lead.
Where Shanley’s injury manifested itself was in the passing game. He only threw the ball 12 times all game, and all but one of those attempts were to junior wide receiver Ryan Pontrelli.
Pontrelli was the anchor of the passing game. He finished the night with 106 receiving yards on six receptions. His biggest reception was the dagger touchdown in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-long, Shanley hit Pontrelli on a screen pass that he turned into a 38-yard score, putting South up 28-7.
“They had some good corners,” said Pontrelli, “but I just felt good running my routes and playing my game.”
Milton (2-5, 0-2) failed to find success in any aspect of the game. The only two touchdowns they had were a 46-yard touchdown pass and a 76-yard touchdown pass, the latter of those was against South’s backup corners late in the fourth quarter. Milton finished with just 25 rushing yards on 22 attempts and 255 yards of total offense.
“The key to any football success is controlling up front offensively and defensively,” said Arnette. “We did that tonight.”
The final touchdown of the game came on an onside kick attempt by Milton after their 76-yard touchdown. Pontrelli scooped up the ball and ran it 50 yards for the win.