Two weeks ago, South Forsyth scored six points during a trip to the Athens area. Upon returning, the War Eagles scored six touchdowns during a wild 41-34 victory Friday at Clarke Central.
“We got down, had to fight back, got the lead, they fought back and tied it up,” South Forsyth head coach Troy Morris said, recounting the highs and lows of the thriller. “It was back and forth. Big play after big play. Their quarterback got loose a few times, and we gave them one on a pick-6.
“The kids kept playing. Both teams kept battling. It was a good game, and we just kept making plays when we needed them. Luckily, we made the last one.”
Playing in their third straight away game, the War Eagles (3-1) couldn't have gotten off to a worse start, allowing a Gladiators touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
“We’ve been traveling a lot,” Morris said. “This is our third away game, and our third long away game. Sometimes, I think the energy and excitement when you haven’t been at home makes it hard to get going a bit.
“Tonight, I felt like we started a little bit sluggish. We gave up a big one early. It took us a while to get going, and we didn’t play with a lot of emotion early.”
That started to change later in the opening quarter.
Quarterback Ty Watkins ran in a touchdown to tie the game, and he connected with Maverick Schippmann on a screen pass for another score.
A pick-6 in the waning moments of the first period pulled Clarke Central to within 14-13. The Gladiators regained the lead at 20-14 midway through the second quarter.
A missed field goal helped set up a late first-half touchdown by Watkins to even the score at 20-all entering halftime.
“Ty Watkins had some incredible plays tonight,” Morris said. “He threw it and ran all over the place. I’m really proud of the way he played.”
Halfway through the third quarter, Watkins added a receiving touchdown to his statline, hauling in a pass from James Margiotta on a trick play.
The Gladiators answered but an unsuccessful PAT kept the War Eagles in front, albeit at just 27-26.
Schippmann found the end zone again, with his second score pushing the lead to 34-26 late in the third quarter.
“He had some really big runs,” Morris said of Schippmann.
The ensuing kickoff was returned for a touchdown but wiped out due a penalty on the hosts. Even still, less than 90 seconds into the final stanza, Clarke Central tied the score on a touchdown and 2-point conversion.
After the War Eagles saw a potential go-ahead field goal blocked, South Forsyth, which fell 7-6 to North Oconee Sept. 2 before a bye last week, forced a punt.
Moments later, Schippmann broke through to complete his hat-trick with a rushing touchdown.
Another defensive stop led the Gladiators to punt the ball to the War Eagles with less than two minutes remaining, and Clarke Central never got the ball back.
“I know overall our defense isn’t happy with its performance,” Morris said. “But they came up with a huge stop there at the end of the game. To me, that’s what football is all about. …
“I told them, ‘Every win ain’t going to be pretty. Sometimes, you have to win in some ugly ways.’ Tonight wasn’t very pretty, but we got it done.”