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Football: West prevails in physical battle against Pace Academy
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West Forsyth quarterback Zach Burns runs the ball in a game against Pace Academy on Aug. 25. - photo by Michael Chung

ATLANTA – West Forsyth made the long drive down to Atlanta to face Pace Academy on Friday night, and the Wolverines prevailed with a 21-14 victory.

It appeared that the Wolverines were going to run away with this game early on. They came out firing on all cylinders. They pounded the rock with seven straight runs to begin the game. Then, Zach Burns hit Grant Woodall on a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Wolverines up 7-0.

“We wanna be known as a physical team that’s gonna run the football and make people stop that.” West head coach Shawn Cahill said. “I thought our offensive line came out and did a great job to start the game. They kinda set the tone for the first half.”

After West went up 14-0, Pace Academy fumbled on the ensuing drive, and David Carrillo jumped on it to give the Wolverines the ball on the Knights’ 32-yard line.

On the following drive, West faced a third-and-goal from the 18-yard line. Burns scrambled to his left trying to buy some time, then was able to find Woodall in the front left corner of the end zone for their second touchdown connection of the game.

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West Forsyth defensive lineman David Carrillo celebrates after recovering a fumble against Pace Academy on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (Photo by Michael Chung)

Burns was making all the right moves in the first half. Not only were the Wolverines slicing up the Knights’ defense with their zone-read running game, but Burns was also 8-for-8 for 67 yards and two touchdowns, as West carried a 21-0 lead into the half.

In the second half, you would’ve thought the teams switched jerseys.

Pace Academy got the ball to start the half and drove right down the field for a 12-play, 85-yard drive. Keashawn Perryman capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run through the middle of the Wolverines’ defense, cutting West’s lead to 21-7. The Knights dominated the possession in third quarter, controlling the ball for 10:09 in the quarter.

After Perryman found the end zone again in the fourth quarter to make it a 21-14 game, the Knights appeared to have seized all the momentum.

“We can never be complacent with a 21-0 lead at the half,” West senior Cade Vela said. “Last game we did the same thing. So two games in a row, coming out kinda sluggish in the second half, we gotta be more disciplined.”

The Wolverines started their final drive on their own 24-yard line with 4:04 remaining in the ball game.

Facing a 3rd-and-22 with just under two minutes to play, the Wolverines rolled the dice. Burns dropped back and found Bryce Jones, who made a sliding grab down the middle of the field for a 36-yard gain, which virtually sealed the win for the Wolverines.

“That’s a play we talked about at halftime, because we thought that Bryce [Jones] was the fastest guy on the field,” Burns said. “I’d been ready to throw Bryce that deep ball and the time came. That’s a play we use selectively for big times like that. In practice that’s our third-and-long play. We got a good safety roll, and Bryce made a heck of a catch.”

After gaining 218 yards of total offense in the first half, including 151 yards on the ground, West managed just 85 yards in the second half, and just 39 yards on the ground.

But when times got tough on the final few drives of the game, West stepped up and got the job done.

“When it was 21-14, I turned around to our kids and I said, ‘Look, we’re still ahead. We still control the game,’” Cahill said. “And they went down the field and took care of the game. I’m proud of them. They gotta find ways to win games like this when things aren’t going well on the road, and they did that.”