In a nail-biting scrimmage Friday night, the South Forsyth War Eagles fell to Shiloh, 12-7, in Snellville.
Shiloh's defense forced South Forsyth to punt on its first series, but as the War Eagles punter got the ball off, a pack of Shiloh defenders ran into him. It earned a roughing the kicker penalty, giving the War Eagles another shot on offense.
The War Eagles came back with a screen pass to James Margiotta, and the senior followed his blocker to get 18 yards after the catch for a first down.
Shiloh’s defensive line was gassed, as some players were bending down for air due to South’s offense having possession of the football for seven minutes.
“Every game is a little different. We kind of get a feel for it and we try to take what is there,” War Eagles head coach Troy Morris said, describing the long offensive drive. “I felt like we can run it and take three or four yards at a time. We'll do that.”
On third-and-6, senior quarterback Ty Watkins completed a screen pass to running back Cole Yeager for a would-be first down. However, a 5-yard penalty forced the War Eagles to deal with a third-and-short situation.
As Watkins scrambled to scan the field better to try to find an open receiver, the Generals got in the backfield to record the sack.
The War Eagles brought out their kicker for a 50-yard field goal, but it was short, giving the ball to Shiloh’s offense with five minutes remaining in the quarter.
On the first play, Generals quarterback Jeremiah Harden zipped a slant pass to wide receiver Alexander Pope, who made a man miss and forced two War Eagles defenders to bring him down.
On the following play, Shiloh lined up with trips right, and Harden threw a long ball to Myles Smith, who beat his man on a vertical route to haul it in. While reeling in the ball, he almost lost his balance but was still able to get in for the touchdown.
The War Eagles were able to get off the field early on Shiloh’s second drive, as linebacker Cole Williams rushed the quarterback to get the sack. Shiloh brought its field goal unit out in an attempt to make a 26-yard field goal but failed.
During South's next drive, it appeared that things were looking up.
Maverick Schippmann got the handoff on back-to-back plays for 23 total yards. Watkins was able to roll right and find Baylor Duncan, who made a nice sideline grab to convert another first down. Coach Morris then put Yeager back in, and the junior burst up the middle for 10 yards.
South tried to develop a screen pass to Schippmann, but Generals defensive linemen Mandjao Berte quickly got to Watkins before he could throw a successful pass. In a third-and-16 situation, the same play was run by South but fell incomplete, forcing the visitors to punt the ball.
Shiloh went back to its passing game, letting Harden do all the work.
Just when it seemed as the War Eagles had made a goal-line stand. Shiloh went for it on fourth down from the 3-yard line, hitting Nazier Griffen on a slant route for the touchdown. Despite this, South blocked the point-after try, making the score 12-0 at the end of the half.
“First half we had a lot of mistakes and penalties, and didn’t play that great honestly,” Morris said. "We weren’t in sync."
As Morris instructed the War Eagles defense to relax and just play, they came out focused and energized, holding Shiloh scoreless in the second half.
Morris entered some of his second-unit players in the third quarter, including quarterback Cade Aycock who dropped a beautiful well thrown ball to where only wide receiver Dash Moore could catch it for a 48-yard grab.
With the War Eagles dealing with third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Schippmann powered his way into the end zone as the third quarter hit triple zeros, cutting the lead to 12-7.
Late in the game, Shiloh's secondary miscommunicated on its coverage, leaving Dean Jackson alone for a 27-yard gain. Then sophomore tight end Cole Turner picked up 7 yards on a curl route.
Soon after, Morris decided to give the football to Braden Belue, who ran for a 14-yard gain.
Just when the War Eagle were getting closer to the end zone, they threw the ball into double-coverage and got intercepted.
Shiloh didn’t shy away from letting second-string quarterback Chris Johnson throw passes late, and linebacker Justin Robinson made them pay by getting an interception with 1:07 on the clock.
There was hope the War Eagles could score the game-winning touchdown, but South went on to throw a game-ending interception.