ROSWELL — For the second time in three games, South Forsyth’s offense couldn’t find traction after losing its starting signal caller.
After senior quarterback Jeffrey left the game with a collarbone injury on a sack that ended the first quarter, Centennial took advantage of the limited play calling and earned a 22-10 victory in a Region 6-AAAAAA matchup on Friday at The Fortress.
"Anytime you lose your starter it’s difficult," South head coach Jeff Arnette said. "He’s the one that gets the majority of the reps during the week, and [for him] to come out, it messes up your timing, it messes up your calling, it messes up a lot of things, but I didn’t coach a very good game tonight, bottom line.
"We didn’t look crisp. I know Jantzen went out, but you got to look better than we did."
With the score tied 7-7 to start the second quarter, the War Eagles struggled without their starter, as they managed only 20 yards of offense in the quarter and backup quarterback Nick Shepherd fumbled the exchange twice with the running back. South finished the game with four turnovers.
Following a South fumble on its own 5, the Knights gained only one yard and attempted a 21-yard field goal that was blocked. After the second fumbled exchange on South’s 45-yard line, the defense held firm again, as Jordan Arnette picked off a pass at the 11-yard line.
South (3-4, 0-4 Region 6-AAAAAA) was content to run out the clock and go into halftime tied at seven apiece.
The War Eagles changed quarterbacks with Eddie Mirynowski to start the third quarter, and seemed to have some success moving the ball on the first drive by handing it off to Isaiah Williams and Khalil Rice, who combined for 33 yards, but South was forced to punt. Williams finished the game with 72 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Knights’ Chase Rosenberg found Christian Robinson for a 16-yard touchdown strike to cap an 8-play, 80-yard drive. Centennial ran the ball for a two-point conversion to make the score 15-7.
After both teams traded punts, South started a drive on its own 47-yard line, but Centennial picked off Mirynowski’s pass to stop the War Eagles. The South defense took the momentum back with a quick three-and-out that ended the third quarter.
"[The defense] played well," Arnette said. "The goal-line stand down at the 4-yard line was awesome; it gave us a huge chance to stay in the game. They fought the whole time."
The War Eagles made some noise to start the fourth quarter, as they drove 70 yards on nine plays that was capped with a Brandon McKee 18-yard field goal to trim the lead to 15-10.
Once again, the South defense wreaked havoc on the Knights’ offense and made them punt the ball with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Mirynowski completed three consecutive passes for a combined 35 yards to put the War Eagles on the Centennial 38-yard line, but Kola Balogun intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown to make the final score 22-10.
"As coaches, we got to be able to find a way to make the right calls," Arnette said. "We have to prepare the backups a little bit better than we did. Eddie didn’t hardly have any snaps this week, but did as good as he could and was under a lot of pressure when he made that last pick.
"That’s just the way it goes. It wasn’t Eddie’s fault or anyone’s fault. It falls back on me."
South’s only score came on a Sam Walker 35-yard end-around. Walker finished the game with 57 rushing and 46 receiving yards.
South will travel to Johns Creek on Friday.