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Turnovers hurt West Forsyth in loss to Northview
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West Forsyth linebacker Ryan Guthrie reacts after making a big tackle on punt coverage. - photo by Micah Green

Northview 28, West Forsyth 14

Northview 14 0 6 8–28

West Forsyth 7 0 0 7–14

First Quarter

N: Moran 12 run (kick good), 5:32

N: Clowe 1 run (kick good), 2:22

WF: McConnell 6 run (kick good), 0:00

Third Quarter

N: Moran 58 run (kick missed), 8:20

Fourth Quarter

WF: McConnell 9 pass to R. Miller (kick good), 11:26

N: Moran 1 run (2-pt good), 5:44

It’s said that winter’s grip will relent early if Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow to a cloudy day. Fitting, then, that a cloudy sky in Cumming on Friday afternoon gave way to pink rays of sunshine just as West Forsyth kicked off against Northview. Spring didn’t arrive early as turnovers and missed scoring chances tripped up West again.

Facing an undefeated Northview team that had outscored opponents 182-14 in four games, West could ill-afford to squander any gilt-edged opportunities, of which the Titans provided several. The Wolverines took over possession twice inside the Northview 30—and turned the ball over on downs both times, and Northview fumbled on the West 1-yard line just before halftime.

Northview made enough plays to earn a 28-14 win at The Den and remain unbeaten behind Josh Moran’s three rushing touchdowns in the Titans’ first true test of the 2014 campaign.

“It’s that old saying: 10 things go right, one thing goes wrong, and that one thing makes you pay,” West coach Adam Clack said. “Not for a lack of effort, but we just made too many mistakes.”

Northview (5-0, 4-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) and West (2-3, 2-2) combined to turn the ball over 11 times; Northview converted six West turnovers in to 13 points, while the Wolverines failed to score off five Titans turnovers.

“Our defense got put in some bad spots tonight, but they held up every single time,” Northview coach Chad Davenport said. “We have one of the best defenses in the state. We’re not going to hold everybody under seven points, but to hold [West] to 14 was impressive.”

West drew within six points just two plays in to the fourth quarter—Hampton McConnell (10-for-20, 108 yards, TD, 2 INT; rush TD) hit Ryan Miller on a screen pass for a 9-yard touchdown with 11:26 to play.

Northview’s ensuing possession didn’t last long. Quarterback DJ Pearson (15-for-28, 232 yards, INT) fumbled on the first play and Ryan Guthrie (sack, INT) recovered at the Titans’ 30. The Den surged, but West lost 11 yards in three plays and punted.

“Any time we felt a little momentum, we couldn’t build on that spark on offense,” Clack said. “[We] scored on the screen to Miller and then got the ball back, and I thought that was going to be our shot, but when it was time to take the game and put pressure on them, we didn’t answer the bell.”

West harassed the mobile Pearson all evening, compensating for a secondary that was missing four players who had seen time at safety. Defensive coordinator David Rooney switched West from its usual 3-4 front to a 4-2 alignment with one safety.

For much of Friday’s game, it was effective, but Northview took advantage of the Wolverines’ single-high safety look on a crucial fourth quarter play. Backed up to its own 16 and facing 3rd-and-10, Northview dialed up a pass down the right hash mark. Pearson hit Nate Phillips (3 catches, 93 yards) for a 53 yard gain, down to the West 31. Moran (14 carries, 97 yards, 3 TD; tackle for loss, INT) scored from 1 yard out and converted a two-point attempt to polish off the Wolverines.

“We felt if we ran a route down the seam, it would put the safety in a bad spot, and sure enough, it did,” Davenport said. “We protected great on that play, even though they pressured us all night, and DJ made a great throw.”

Grant Torgerson (9 carries, 82 yards) found success running between the tackles for West, but Northview mostly snuffed out the Wolverines’ attempts to run sideline-to-sideline. Nate Schmitz caught five passes from McConnell for 61 yards and Grant Anderskow had 30 receiving yards.

“I felt like we were headed in the right direction on offense after the last two weeks, but we haven’t found that extra gear when our competition really steps up,” Clack said. “Hampton and the guys on offense played their guts out, but it didn’t turn out how anybody wanted tonight.”