Keegan Stover didn't field the snap cleanly.
And with a pair of Mays defenders closing in quickly, Stover had about one second to get the ball out of his hands before being pummeled into the ground.
Stover coolly scooped up the ball, found his grip and dumped it off to running back Daba Fofana, who raced 30 yards for West Forsyth's second score of the game. It was one of four touchdown passes for Stover, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 156 yards in his first varsity start Wednesday, as West blew out Mays 42-6 in the Corky Kell Classic.
“I thought Keegan did a nice job tonight. He’s young and he’s going to hopefully get better every week," West head coach Dave Svehla said. "He still does some young things, but that’s to be expected. I thought for his first varsity start, I thought he kept his composure really well and made good decisions tonight.”
Fofana rushed for 107 yards on 16 carries, adding another 57 yards on six catches and bringing a wealth of experience to a West offense that was without Georgia commit Dylan Fairchild, who watched the game from the sidelines wearing a knee brace.
But it was the focus of his sophomore quarterback that impressed Fofana on the TD catch.
“I was focused on trying to slip through the line," Fofana said. "I just see Keegan kind of sidearm it, and he had great composure that play, even though the first part of it wasn’t going his way.”
Stover's first touchdown capped West's first drive of the season, a 78-yard sequence that ended with wide receiver TJ Jennings sneaking behind the Mays defense and hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Stover.
Stover, who played at Dawson County last year, also threw touchdown passes to Oscar Delp — a 4-yard pass that capped a four-play, 25-yard drive and a 45-yard TD in the third quarter that signaled the end of the night for West's first team.
Delp's first touchdown was set up by a Mays fumble, which was recovered by safety Drew Southern.
After an incompletion on first down, Stover avoided a sack and scrambled 19 yards for a first down. Stover found Delp in the end zone two plays later to make it 21-0 West with 10:46 left in the second quarter.
Svehla said Southern's ability to play safety played into the decision to start Keegan at quarterback.
“I’ll tell you what, it was a really good quarterback competition with Drew Southern and Keegan," Svehla said. "We felt like Drew could certainly play quarterback for us. Keegan brings a little bit different of a skill set, and Drew also brings the versatility of being able to play for us on defense and return some things for us. It gave us an opportunity to get both guys on the field.”
Fofana said he isn't surprised by his sophomore quarterback's success after training with him all season. In fact, he expected these results.
“He didn’t need me to help calm the nerves. He’s been training really hard this offseason," Fofana said. "I’ve been working with him and a whole bunch of other guys and we knew this was going to happen. We put in the work for nine months with him throwing and all of that training at other places. We just knew that he was going to perform.”+
West scored on all but two drives in the first half Wednesday, carrying a 35-0 lead into halftime.
After scoring on their first three drives, the Wolverines were forced to punt facing fourth-and-5 from Mays' 41-yard line. Fofana, also the team's punter, fired a perfect punt and pinned the Raiders at their 1-yard line.
The second stalled drive came at the end of the first half when West botched an attempted field goal.
“The offense was going smoothly," Fofana said. "We were executing better than we have in practice and everything was coming together. The line was blocking and they were executing efficiently, and I couldn’t have done it without them. I couldn’t have rushed as well as I did, Keegan couldn’t have thrown as well as he did without that time.”
Defensive back Dalton Tjong picked off a Soloman Evans pass in the second quarter, his sixth interception dating back to last year. Tjong made the interception after Southern jumped the route and deflected the pass.
Mays didn't cross midfield until after halftime and finished with just 204 yards of total offense, with 152 yards coming in the second half. Mays spoiled West's shutout with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter, when backup quarterback Quintavius Johnson rumbled 32 yards for the score, the Raiders' longest play of the game.
West (1-0) will travel to Cartersville at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11.
Svehla did not say when he expects Fairchild to return, but hopes he'll be ready in time for region play.
“We’ll see. I hope so," Svehla said when asked if Fairchild will be ready for region play. "We’ll see how he does and how he gets better. I was just proud of Alex Steele, a senior, who came in and played for him tonight and did a really nice job. When you get an opportunity to play, you hope they take advantage of it.”