By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
There was plenty for the South Forsyth football team to like in its 21-7 homecoming victory over South Gwinnett on Friday night.
Quarterback Drew Morris followed his stellar two-touchdown performance the previous week by spinning, dodging, throwing and generally evading a relentless Comets pass rush for a timely 125 yards—41 of which came on a first-quarter scramble that provided South with its first score.
Running back Jordan Brunson made a careful, yet promising step in his recovery from an August 24th ankle injury at Blessed Trinity with a 16-touch performance for 45 yards that showed familiar flashes of what the dynamic junior can do for an offense when fully healthy.
In the final quarter, however, it was the War Eagle defense that fittingly stamped the finishing touch on South’s third win of the season.
After giving up a mere 31 yards in the first half and largely holding the War Eagle lead in place, South’s defense found itself in their first genuinely dangerous situation late in the final quarter.
Down only 14 thanks to a pick-six on the first possession of the game, South Gwinnett backup quarterback Kaleb Bell dropped back on 4th and 12 and found receiver Deshaun Robinson for a 17-yard-gain, a fresh set of downs and a chance to cut the lead to a single score with just over four minutes to play.
The War Eagle defense pushed back, though.
Much like they had throughout the majority of the game, blue jerseys swarmed freely toward the football.
Bell managed a quick two yard completion on first down, fell victim to Peyton Kelly’s second sack of the night on second down, and heaved an ill-fated pass into heavy coverage on third for an incompletion.
On fourth down and with any remaining, realistic opportunity of a comeback on the line, Bell dropped back, rolled left and heaved an arcing pass in the direction of the outstretched hands of a receiver with a dangerous half-step lead on the defensive backs.
South Forsyth senior Terrence Stover leapt, swatted and batted away any remaining threats to a shutout by his defense.
“Coach (Trevor) Williams, our defensive coordinator, and his staff did an incredible job tonight,” South Forsyth head coach Jeff Arnette said. “The players — man, they played so hard. I was so proud of them. This was one of those nights that, thank goodness, we played really good defense because we struggled a lot offensively, especially in the second half.”
Following Comets cornerback Joshua Serry’s first-quarter pick-six off of a tipped pass on the second play from scrimmage, South Forsyth’s offense responded by moving the ball effectively and at will for the duration of the half, finishing with 160 yards and three scores.
The Comet defense dug in significantly in the second half, though, and, with the help of a few penalties and miscues, held the War Eagle offense to a mere 25 yards with a pair of first downs.
Despite the short fields and minimal rest, the South Forsyth defense followed their dominant first half performance with an aggressive, swarming, collective effort each play with few exceptions.
“They were just relentless out there with the pressure they put on the quarterback,” Arnette said.
One of the evening’s, not to mention the season’s leading contributors to South Forsyth’s dominant defensive performance was senior and team captain Luis Gonzalez.
“It’s just the South Forsyth mentality of going to hit the other team in the mouth,” said Gonzalez, who finished the night with four tackles for a loss and a sack. “Everybody believes in the direction that we’re going, and if you get all 11 guys to believe in something, it’s going to go our way.”
After next week’s bye, the 3-1 War Eagles will continue a tough non-area schedule at 3-0 Hillgrove.