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Football: Dominant second half leads West past Central
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West Forsyth senior Dylan Baggett, top, celebrates with senior Cooper Johnson during Friday's 42-10 win against Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts

The second half of West Forsyth's season seemed to begin after halftime Friday.

As the Wolverines churned out a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter, everything appeared to click.

Oscar Delp opened the drive with a 6-yard gain on first down, then added a 12-yard catch later in the drive to get West into the red zone. Between those two catches, Ryder Stewart ripped off a 9-yard run over the right end and Keegan Stover scrambled 10 yards for a first down. 

After Ashton van Horn reeled in a 7-yard slant for a TD to make it a two-score game, memories of West's incongruous first half faded away. 

And as West proceeded to score on each of its second-half drives — save for the final drive, which the Wolverines used to run out the clock — any remnants of West's disappointing start to region play also seemed to disappear as the Wolverines bounced back Friday with a complete 42-10 win over Central.

"We've been our own worst enemy for three weeks, really, if you go back to Mill Creek," West coach Dave Svehla said. "We had a chance to be ahead of them at halftime and turned out to be down by 10. I thought the kids responded well last week before South, and I thought we had a good week of practice this week. They're discouraged because they didn't think they would be 2-4 coming into this game, but the reality is that's what we are because we didn't play better."

West outgained Central in total yards 423-123, with Stover throwing for 244 yards and five touchdowns. A 54-yard TD pass to Dylan Baggett put West up 7-0 in the first quarter, then Stover threw his first of two TD passes to van Horn right before half.

But Central answered West's first score when Marcus Brown took a pooch kick back to the Wolverines' 27-yard line, then QB Drew Mullvain hit Camden Yeager in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score.

Jon Clapper added a 21-yard field goal right before half to cut West's lead to 14-10.

"In the first, half that was one of the best games," Central coach David Rooney said. "Against Gainesville, we did the same thing. I'm proud of the kids. We worked hard this week and they worked hard this week. We came out in the first half and all their hard work showed."

Central's defense also impressed in the first half. After allowing Stover to scramble for 20 yards on the second play of the game, the Bulldogs buckled down and forced a pair of incompletions and stopped Stewart for a 2-yard gain to force a punt. Three drives later, Brown made a great tackle on Delp in open space to drop him for a 3-yard loss on first down. 

West's offense ultimately stalled, and the Wolverines were forced to punt on that possession, too.

But West opened the second half determined to score and found the end zone on back-to-back plays in the third quarter.

After van Horn's 7-yard TD, West's defense forced a three-and-out and Jaycen Harris returned Central's punt all the way down to the Bulldogs' 32-yard line. On the very next play, Stover hit Baggett off a play-action pass for a 32-yard TD.

Stover added a 63-yard TD pass to Delp to end the third quarter, and William Orris added a 29-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

Orris finished with 63 yards on five carries, while Stover managed 52 yards on six carries, including an 11-yard jaunt and a tough 15-yard run to set up Orris' touchdown.

"I think Keegan is a weapon running the ball. He thinks he's Michael Vick," Svehla said. "He's certainly a strong kid, a big kid. He's hard to bring down, and that's a weapon we're going to have to use the next three weeks as we're trying to earn a playoff berth."

Mullvain finished 10 of 15 for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Yeager caught six passes for 53 yards and the score.

Central [1-6, 0-4 Region 6-7A] is still searching for its first region win, though Rooney believes the program is headed in the right direction. The Bulldogs trailed Gainesville at halftime 13-7 four weeks ago, and last week against North, Central trailed 6-0.

After another one-score halftime deficit, Rooney is looking for the Bulldogs to put together a complete game in their final three weeks of the season.

"The struggle with anybody is, I think people today want instant success and instant turnaround, and that's not what this is going to be," Rooney said. "Our kids are fighting hard this year. I know in my heart and I think the kids believe we're only going to get better from here. That includes next week against Lambert and then next year. We've got three games left this year and we're going to take them one game at a time and keep trying to improve all the way through this season."

Meanwhile, West [3-4, 1-2 Region 6-7A] will try to even its record next week at home against Gainesville.