After suffering a difficult loss to Lambert last week, West Forsyth entered its home matchup against Centennial with the sole objective of keeping their playoff hopes alive and well.
Behind the bullish rushing performance of Grant Torgerson, the Wolverines held off the Knights in a 31-21 win, maintaining a firm hold on the third playoff spot in Region 6-AAAAAA and keeping their options open for an even better position with one week remaining in the regular season.
West (6-3, 6-2) held a 21-7 lead entering the fourth quarter and looked to be in control of the game, but Centennial threatened to overtake the Wolverines down the stretch, putting up 14 points in the final quarter. But a 65-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by junior Joey Congrove slowed the Knight’s momentum and gave West enough cushion to secure the win.
“It hasn’t been just last week, it’s really been this month,” West coach Adam Clack said while addressing his team’s last few region matchups. “We had the win at South, the struggle to overcome (Lambert), and now this week. Believe it or not, it’s sometimes easier to re-focus coming off a loss, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Torgerson was the bell-cow running-back for the Wolverine offense, racking up 132 yards on 33 rushing attempts and finishing three Wolverine touchdown drives with two 1-yard rushes and a 5-yard TD scamper.
“It was a weird, rainy week for practice,” Torgerson said. “We only got to go outside one day, so it was tough to come out and make contact. I have to give all the credit to our offensive line, it was a good win.”
Kiernen Hamilton (15-for-23, 164 yards) and the Wolverine offense got to work quickly in the first quarter, taking their second possession of the game for a 9-play, 61-yard drive that ended in Torgerson’s first 1-yard score to give West a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Torgerson found the end zone again for his second 1-yard score, putting West ahead 14-0.
The Wolverines’ defense made it difficult for Centennial early in the game, forcing three punts and only allowing the Knights to cross the 50-yard line once in the first half. Junior defensive lineman Eli Huggins was the focal point of the front seven, coming down with tackles and a key sack in the second quarter.
After a lethargic first half, the Knights finally began to manufacture some offense, finding success through the air and eventually reaching the end zone on a 12-yard run by Tyreke Smith in the third quarter.
Torgerson answered with his third rushing score of the evening, but Centennial quarterback Casen Conway (20-for-38, TD, INT) plowed his way into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak, bringing his the Knights within 21-14.
On the subsequent kickoff, Congrove took the ball at the 35-yard line and tore down the near sideline, breaking tackles at the wedge and sprinting the rest of the way for the touchdown. West led by 14, and Centennial’s comeback was over after senior linebacker Jackson Brantley picked off Conway on the Knight’s last drive of the game.
West will face John Creek next week in the regular season finale. Currently third in the region, the Wolverines can catapult past South to the No. 2 spot with a win against the Gladiators and a War Eagle loss to Lambert. But for Clack, making the postseason is of far greater importance than where the game will be played.
“It doesn’t do us any good to worry about what any other team is doing,” Clack said. “To get the second seed, we have to win no matter what, and that’s what we’re going to be focused on, just playing our game in week 11.”