West Forsyth’s coaching staff made a few tweaks at halftime, and it proved to make all the difference.
The Wolverines led 7-0 at the half before quarterback Hampton McConnell and receiver Nathan Schmitz connected on early touchdown passes in the third quarter of 40 and 47 yards, respectively, to defeat North Forsyth 28-7 on Friday at The Den.
"We worked hard," West coach Frank Hepler said. "We just looked at what they were giving us. We talked to our coaches at halftime and they made some suggestions and we made some adjustments."
West (5-2, 3-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) only needed four plays to reach the end zone to start the third quarter, as McConnell launched a deep pass to a wide-open Schmitz for an easy 40-yard touchdown. After the defense forced a three-and-out, West called a flea-flicker for its first play and McConnell (10-for-14, 202 yards, 2 TDs) again found a wide-open Schmitz for another touchdown to go up 21-0 with 7:45 left in the third.
"I think that it’s North and everybody was fired up," McConnell said. "We had momentum after that first touchdown pass and then to come run the flea-flicker…I think we knew it was going to be a big play, and it was."
North (4-3, 1-3) didn’t wane and answered, as Zac Slaton (15 carries, 54 yards) headlined a 12-play, 65-yard drive that was capped with a 2-yard quarterback sneak from Dakota Gottberg (4-for-11, 55 yards, 2 interceptions) to close the gap to 21-7 with 2:44 left in the quarter.
The Raiders then forced a punt and moved the ball to their own 43 but lost all momentum when West defensive back Alex Funderburk picked off a deep pass.
"It’s my birthday, and we came out and were revved up," Funderburk said. "We had been going over that play all week, just studying it because we’d mess up on the routes, but it all came together during the game."
West tailback Grant Anderskow made good use of the turnover, as he wrapped things up with a 15-yard scamper to the end zone to make the score 28-7.
Running back Trevor O’Brien (13 carries, 78 yards, touchdown) punched in the Wolverines’ first touchdown of the night on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone with 19.8 seconds left in the second quarter.
North built a 14-play drive in the first quarter to open the game, but turned the ball over on downs at the West 28.
The Raiders were hampered for much of the night with penalties, racking up 100 yards on 13 flags.
"It’s hard to play two teams," North coach Jason Galt said. "I’ve never been a coach to complain about referees, but we’re averaging four penalties a game. The whole season we’ve had four penalties a game and tonight — penalties are fine, but they’re drive-killing penalties.
"It just so happened that we [held] and did this. And right when we get momentum, a penalty comes out. Now, that’s not why we lost the game, but that’s a big part of it."