GRAYSON — West Forsyth's postseason run ended Friday in the third round of the Class 7A playoffs with a 33-0 loss to Grayson.
West overcame a sluggish offensive performance last week against North Gwinnett, but the Wolverines could not penetrate the defense of a nationally ranked Grayson team and was shut out for the first time all season.
"I think we felt good about our gameplan. Sometimes you can draw up great plans, but if the guy across from you whips you, then those plans go out the door," West Forsyth head coach Dave Svehla said. "It didn't happen a lot, but it happened more tonight than has happened this year. It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort by our kids. They zoned in, they had a great week of practice and they were excited to play. We came in here believing that if we played really well we had a chance to win. Our kids were certainly not scared."
West's defense allowed just one score in the first half, a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jake Garcia to Jamal Haynes. The play capped a 13-play, 86-yard drive that saw Grayson convert four third downs.
Aside from the scoring drive, however, the Rams managed only 39 total yards on four drives in the first half and turned the ball over on their final offensive play before halftime when West safety Dalton Tjong picked off Garcia.
The turnover set up West at the 46-yard line with about a minute to play, but a trio of incomplete passes, punctuated by an intentional grounding call on third down, forced West to punt the ball as time expired.
West had a chance to get on the board earlier in the first half after an impressive defensive stand gave the Wolverines favorable field position.
With the Rams on their own 12-yard line, West linebacker Riley McKee tracked Grayson running back Joseph Taylor as he tried to reverse field and dropped him for a 10-yard loss. After a pair of 3-yard runs, Grayson punted from its own end zone and gave West a first-and-10 from the 48-yard line.
But West's first play went the opposite was as Grayson linebacker Derrell Farrar stepped in front of wide receiver Jaycen Harris and took the interception all the way back for a touchdown.
"The offense put them in tough spots (and) special teams put them in tough spots," Svehla said. "I thought the defense has played well. The defense has played well all year. We've just got to help them out, and we didn't help them out very much. Grayson's a very good football team, and I would expect they will have a great opportunity to keep moving on. There's only four teams left, so everybody's going to be really good."
West trailed 13-0 at halftime, but Grayson scored on all but one of its first four drives after halftime to put the game out of reach.
Running back Sean Downer had a 10-yard run, Garcia found Haynes again for a 5-yard TD and Taylor's 15-yard score made it 33-0.
Downer's touchdown was set up by a Tjong fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half.
Stover finished 10 of 25 for 64 yards and the interception, while Kobe Haynes was West's leading rusher with seven yards on 10 carries.
"Like a lot of teams, we had to overcome some obstacles," Svehla said. "I wish some of those kids that didn't get to play tonight would have gotten a chance just to experience the game. I don't know if it would've made a difference, but I wish Daba and Oscar would've had a chance to experience playing in a quarterfinal game against really, really good competition."
West ends the season with a 9-4 record and is the first Forsyth County team to reach the third round of the GHSA playoffs since South Forsyth in 2015.
"We've got such quality kids," Svehla said. "We have an amazing senior class of kids and I'm glad for them that they got to go to the third round of the playoffs, because that's a pretty big deal. It hasn't happened a lot at our school or in the county."