MARIETTA -- As far as South Forsyth head coach Jeff Arnette is concerned, the War Eagles will have momentum going into region play.
It's hard to believe that after the first half they endured Friday night.
After having negative yardage for nearly the entire first half and falling behind by five scores, South found its footing and nearly bounced back, eventually dropping a 35-21 decision to Lassiter at Frank Fillman Stadium.
"We were in about as big of a pit as we could be with everything going wrong, but in the last 27 minutes of the game we completely dominated," Arnette said. "It's just the kind of kids that we've got. The lord has blessed me with the chance to coach these jokers. There ain't many teams that get beat that bad and come back fighting. I'm proud of them."
In a battle of top ranked teams -- South (3-2) entered No. 9, Lassiter (5-0) No. 6 -- only one team looked like a contender in the first 20 minutes. Lassiter sacked South quarterback Davis Shanley five times and intercepted him twice in the first half, while the Trojans' up-tempo passing attack helped them to a 35-0 lead with 8 minutes to go in the second quarter.
Lassiter quarterback Bradley Riopelle threw a 60-yard scoring strike to Dawson Brown for the game's first points, then he connected with Kyle Syvarth on a 39-yard flea-flicker to seize momentum. Running back Alex Venturino scored untouched from 40 yards at the end of the first, then fell on a fumble from Riopelle in the end zone to make the score 28-0 on the first play of the second. Highly recruited defensive back Derek Allen then intercepted Shanley, which was followed by a deep ball to Brown that set up a 1-yard score from Spencer Horton.
But South found life late in the half, as Shanley connected with Ryan Pontrelli for a 14-yard score. Then, after Lassiter returned an onside attempt into South territory, Julian Mingo got a sack as the half expired to prevent the running clock from taking effect.
Shanley and company came out of the locker room a different team. He finished 30 of 47 passing for three touchdowns, hitting Jaylen Pearson and Guy Morra on consecutive drives to pull within two scores with 11:51 to play in the game.
A sack from Ryan LaFlamme and then a fumble recovery at midfield had South in business, with all of the momentum, but two critical errors prevented the comeback – Shanley was sacked 26-yards behind the line on one drive, while Pontrelli fumbled away a ball inside the 20 on the next. South's defense forced four straight three-and-outs in the third quarter.
Pontrelli caught a career-high 13 passes for 152 yards, while Morra added 62 yards on five catches and Pearson had 60 yards on four receptions.
Riopelle was 13 of 21 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, while Venturino led with 61 yards on 15 carries.
South will have a week off before opening region play against Lambert on Oct. 7.
Lassiter 35, South 21
South Forsyth 0 7 7 7_21
Lassiter 21 14 0 0_35
L_Brown 60 pass from Riopelle, 6:35
L_Syvarth 39 pass from Riopelle, 2:26
L_Venturino 40 run, 1:04
L_Venturino 0 run, 11:47
L_Horton 1 run, 8:43
SF_Pontrelli 14 pass from Shanley, :33
SF_Pearson 22 pass from Shanley, 3:05
S_Morra 10 pass from Shanley, 11:51