Final drive sinks Tigers
CHAPEL HILL -- Forrest utilized its quick-strike ability to stay in Friday's matchup with visiting Region 4-2A rival Watertown.
The Rockets used their grind-it-out style to put away an eventual 35-28 victory - one that likely determined the region championship.
"Coach (Brent Johns) told us to be the more physical team," Forrest senior running back Jacob Jones said following his 116-yard, two-touchdown rushing effort. "In the fourth quarter, we were the more physical team."
Trailing by two touchdowns 15 minutes into the contest, the hosts fought off elimination with a 76-yard Jones burst up the middle of the field at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter and went ahead with a 58-yard Layton Bennett pass to Luke Cunningham just inside the seven-minute mark of the third period.
After a Watertown touchdown and a missed Rockets field goal, the Purple Tigers punted and Forrest (7-0, 4-0) took over at its own 7-yard line with 7:42 remaining in regulation.
With the next 15 snaps, the hosts moved to Watertown's 8 before Jones scored again with 28 seconds to play.
The visitors were unable to cross midfield on their final two offensive plays before time expired.
It marked the second straight year Forrest has defeated Watertown, following a 30-20 decision last season.
"It was more of a mentality than anything," Johns said after the game-winning drive, which hinged on a run-oriented package that the team calls 'Husker' featuring an unbalanced line. "We practice that package a lot but we don't use it a lot. They know when we get to it, it's 'go' time. We've got physical kids that believe in the weight room and believe in being in better condition."
The Rockets converted three third-down plays on the final drive, further frustrating Watertown (6-1, 3-1) after the Purple Tigers were unable to build on the momentum created by scoring on their first three possessions of the game.
"We didn't make plays," coach Gavin Webster said. "Our defense played a tough game. They got tired and couldn't get off the field. But we didn't make some plays we needed to make. We dropped some balls, felt we had a few more holes. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them.
"We pinned them deep (before their final drive). We felt that was the smart move, to make them drive 90 (yards). Obviously, they drove 90.'
Watertown got on the scoreboard early, with Seth Price's 15-yard scoring run giving the Purple Tigers the lead just three minutes into the game. After a Nick McClendon 10-yard touchdown tied the score, Ty Long put Watertown ahead again with a 4-yard plunge and Price's 36-yard hookup with Jenson White extended the margin.
Before the half ended, though, Jones scored his first touchdown and Slayton Wild added a 26-yard scoring run.
"Coach preached all week to never give up, to keep fighting," Jones said.
Price added a 44-yard TD pass to Heath Price late in the third quarter and finished with 257 passing yards, but Watertown was unable to generate a consistent running attack. Love led WHS with 13 carries for 63 yards.
"The kids fought hard," Webster said. "Hopefully they'll stay hungry."
Wild finished with 93 yards on 12 carries for Forrest, with Bennett throwing for 100 yards.
Watertown is idle Oct. 7 and will host East Robertson Oct. 14.