West Forsyth needed repeated defensive bailouts to escape with a 26-21 win over Newnan at The Den on Friday night.
After leading 19-0 at halftime, West’s offense lost its momentum in the second half, only managing to score one touchdown. The drives were short and kept Newnan in the game.
It was West’s defense that bailed out the struggling offense time and time again, forcing four turnovers in the second half alone.
The biggest turnover came in the final drive of the game. Newnan shrunk the lead to five points and had the ball on its own 41-yard line with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter. The first two plays of the drive were quick strikes to pick up 19 yards and a first down. But after two straight false start penalties, West’s defense hunkered down. On third-and-long, Sattlewhite fumbled the ball and Thomas Arundale recovered to clinch the game.
“I thought [the defense] did a fantastic job all night,” West head coach Adam Clack said. “The kids just played their guts out. Couldn’t be prouder that they bailed us out a couple times down the stretch.”
The Wolverines entered the game with high expectations. During the week, West received a vote in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association top 10 poll for Class 7A. West’s 3-1 record and impressive win against Hillgrove two weeks prior cemented them as a legitimate threat to contend against the elite teams in the class. West had another chance to prove it belonged against Newnan.
The first drive of the game the Wolverines (4-1) offense looked poised for an efficient night. It took only five plays and 90 seconds for Kiernen Hamilton to find Ben Bresnahan for a 12-yard touchdown pass, giving them a quick 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.
The offensive success continued later in the half. After the teams traded punts, Blake Snee took it 53-yards on the first play of West’s second drive of the second quarter to stretch their lead to 12-0.
West’s final score of the half came on a big 13-play drive that ate over four minutes off the clock. Hamilton completed five passes on the drive, including a six-yard strike to Bresnahan in the back of the end zone. West entered halftime with a 19-0 lead.
“Early on, we got in a very good rhythm,” Clack said. “We wanted to show them as many different formations as we could right off the bat. We wanted to get an idea of how they would adjust as they were trying to figure out what we were going to do next.”
If the first half was all about the efficiency of the offense, the second half was all about the grit of the defense.
Even without star defensive end Eli Huggins, West’s defensive front managed to get pressure on elusive Newnan quarterback Kadarius Satterwhite.
The Wolverines did struggle to contain Satterwhite, however. The first score of the second half was a 63-yard scramble from Satterwhite, putting Newnan on the board 19-7.
Hamilton connected with Arundale for a 25-yard touchdown pass to go up 26-7 with 5:17 left in the third quarter, but Satterwhite directed the comeback from there. He scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter to cut West’s lead to 26-14, then Newnan scored against with 2:32 remaining to make it a one possession game.
But West’s defense came through in the end.
West Forsyth 26, Newnan 21
Newnan 0 0 7 14_21
West Forsyth 6 13 7 0_26
WF_Bresnahan 12 pass from Hamilton (kick missed), 10:30
WF_Snee 53 run (kick missed), 10:19
WF_Bresnahan 6 pass from Hamilton (kick good), 4:05
N_Satterwhite 63 run (kick good), 11:33
WF_Arundale 25 pass from Hamilton (kick good), 5:17
N_Satterwhite 9 run (kick good), 8:31
N_Jones 37 pass from Satterwhite (kick good), 1:33