WOODSTOCK – West Forsyth started its season-opener Friday at Woodstock on fire and then had to overcome a late rally for a 24-21 victory Friday to start 1-0 for the first time since 2012.
Woodstock received the opening possession and was driving down the field until its drive stalled and left it with an attempt at a field goal. Instead, West blocked it, and linebacker Thomas Arundale returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.
After forcing a punt on Woodstock’s second possession, West senior quarterback Kiernen Hamilton launched an 84-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Jones on its first offensive play of the game to go up 14-0 with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
Joey Congrove added a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and West went into halftime up comfortably 21-0.
“In the first-half, we’re just driving,” Hamilton said. “Every person does their job. [But] once we got up 21-0 (thanks to a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by Joey Congrove), I feel like we stepped off the peddle, and that resulted in a [close] 24-21 win.”
Hamilton finished the game completing 11 of his 25 pass attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. He also ran for 28 yards on 11 carries. The Wolverines were led on the ground by running back Clay Crocker who ran for 56 yards on 22 carries, and the team was led in receiving by Bryce Jones (two catches, 90 yards, one touchdown) and Ben Bresnahan (five catches, 58 yards).
But West struggled on offense in the second half, managing just a 20-yard field goal from Jones to go up 24-14 with 9:02 left in the game.
Woodstock, meanwhile, rallied. Quarterback Garrett Bass threw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half from 15, 36 and 11 yards, the last of which came with 7:57 left in the game and cut West’s lead to just a field goal.
Although the play of West was getting rough towards the end of the game, head coach Adam Clack kept reminding the team that a win is a win, but they have more to work on.
“I was proud of the way the guys hung in there,” Clack said. “We had a couple of third downs late that we were able to get that we were not getting early in the game. Lot to work on, but proud of the resilience.
“We are still trying to find our stride right now on offense. There are moments when you see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. [But] we’ll get into rhythm, and a lot of self-inflicted things right now. We just have to get consistent. Keep working hard. This is zero week.”
Woodstock was led by Bass who completed 20 of 37 pass attempts for 203 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bass also led the team in rushing with 53 yards on 10 carries. Noah Firth led Woodstock in receiving with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
West knows it needs to improve, and Hamilton says it revolves around effort.
“[We need more] effort,” Hamilton said. “You do your job, and you win. Just keep driving down the field to move the chains, and just score.”