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West Forsyth upsets South Forsyth to stay in playoff hunt
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West Forsyth receiver Nathan Schmitz breaks free on the way to an 80-yard touchdown catch. - photo by Micah Green

West Forsyth 27, South Forsyth 14

West Forsyth 7 7 7 6—27

South Forsyth 0 8 6 0—14

First Quarter

WF: Reid 10 run (kick good), 2:47

Second Quarter

SF: LaFlamme 16 run (run good), 8:38

WF: Torgerson 5 run (kick good), 2:58

Third Quarter

SF: LaFlamme 3 run (kick missed), 6:15

WF: Schmitz 80 pass from McConnell (kick good), 6:02

Fourth Quarter

WF: Reid 6 pass from McConnell (kick missed), 5:28

West Forsyth head coach Adam Clack knew his Wolverines had yet to play anywhere close to their best this season. The Wolverines heard it all—inconsistent, lacking an identity—during a 2-3 start.

West was getting there, slowly, until Clack called his team out during the Wolverines’ Oct. 5 bye week, wanting to see who would step up.

The first-year head coach got his answer in a 27-14 win over South Forsyth on Friday night at War Eagle Stadium: just about everyone.

“We felt like we were ready to play our best game,” Clack said. “Our guys knew coming in that they would have to make plays to beat South, and they made ‘em in the passing game, on third down, on defense and even in the kicking game.”

Clack stayed patient with the Wolverines’ (4-3 overall, 4-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) running game, biding his time until the opportune moment arose to let quarterback Hampton McConnell take a shot downfield.

That time finally came when South (5-2 overall, 5-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) used up the opening 5:45 of the third quarter with a 12-play, 73-yard drive that evened the score at 14-all.

West took over at its own 20 and South, tired of seeing Grant Torgerson (16 carries, 76 yards, TD; 2 catches, 40 yards) pick up chunks of yardage between the tackles, started to sell out to stop the run.

On the Wolverines’ first offensive snap of the second half, McConnell faked a handoff and lofted a deep throw down the right hash to Nate Schmitz (4 catches, 125 yards, TD), who cradled the catch despite being interfered with and strutted the rest of the way for an 80-yard touchdown, just 13 seconds after the War Eagles equalized.

“They hit us deep twice and that changed the game, simple as that,” South coach Jeff Arnette said. “We go down the field and score to tie it up, miss the extra point that would’ve put us ahead, and then they hit an 80-yard pass on the first play after the kickoff. You can’t do that and expect to beat good football teams.”

It seemed an odd time for Clack to call for a quick-strike play. The Wolverine defense had just come off the field after a sustained possession, but Clack felt that the drive wore South down on offense. Tyler LaFlamme (23 carries, 122 yards, 2 TD) carried the ball on 10 of 12 plays for 43 yards, but the senior only rushed four more times in the final 18 minutes.

West got the one-on-one matchup it wanted on the outside as Schmitz got a free release off the line. The Wolverine offensive line, which lost Collin McClain and Matt McIntire to injuries during Friday’s game, gave McConnell (11-for-17, 227 yards, 2 TD; 11 rush, 19 yards) a comfortable pocket, and the senior put West ahead to stay.

“We’d been saving our play-action,” Clack said. “We knew it would be there at some point … You don’t keep anything in your pocket in a game like this.”

Austin Reid (4 catches, 53 yards, TD; 3 carries, 14 yards, TD) returned for West after suffering a concussion in the Wolverines’ Sept. 19 win at Habersham Central, and the junior slot back infused much-needed speed on the perimeter. Reid took a sweep out of the wildcat formation 10 yards, beating a host of South defenders tothe pylon for the Wolverines’ first touchdown. McConnell hit Reid on a quick out-route on third-and-goal from the 6 to seal the win for West.

South entered Friday’s game averaging 43.1 points per game, but a physical West defense gave Matt White (15-for-29, 171 yards) few open throws and created two crucial turnovers—Alec Coburn recovered a War Eagle fumble and Clint Hall intercepted Matt White deep in South territory.

South tight end Cameron Kline finished with six receptions for 71 yards and Jalen Camp caught four passes for 46 yards, but the War Eagles totaled 126 yards on the ground—meager by South standards.

“There’s no secret about LaFlamme,” Clack said. “As ‘3’ goes, they go. The quarterback is dangerous as well, but that’s an offense that’s been so successful because there’s not just one weapon to stop.”

South must regroup before traveling to Alpharetta, the only undefeated team left in Region 6-AAAAAA, next Friday.

“It’s easy to do good when you’re winning every game, but we’re going to see what these kids are made of after a loss like this,” Arnette said.

While Arnette spoke to a somber huddle after the War Eagles’ 27-14 loss, Clack’s team celebrated the win 60 yards away as West moved into a four-way tie at 4-2 for third place in the region.

The Wolverines’ night only got better with Lambert’s 3-0 win at Northview. The Longhorns and Titans are also part of the logjam behind Alpharetta and South. When informed of the score, Clack grinned, then exhaled.

“It’s on now,” he said.

Final Stats:

PASSING—West Forsyth: McConnell 11-17-227. South Forsyth: White 15-29-171-1.

RUSHING—West Forsyth: Torgerson 16-76; McConnell 11-19; Reid 3-14; Miller 3-8; Lingo 1-2. South Forsyth: LaFlamme 23-122; Outlaw 2-3; Umberger 2-1.

RECEIVING—West Forsyth: Schmitz 4-125; Reid 4-53; Torgerson 2-40; Rogers 1-9. South Forsyth: Kline 6-71; Camp 4-46; Witalis 3-33; Umberger 1-20; Ataide 1-1.