EAST BEND — For the first time in 29 years, the Forbush Falcons have earned the title of Conference Champions. It has been a long time coming for the Falcons, as they have been through coaching changes, play changes, and even a season change. Forbush put up impressive numbers this season, as they were able to score 37 touchdowns and allowed only eight. On Friday night, the Falcons capped off their undefeated regular season with a 34-7 win over West Stokes.
Forbush put up a touchdown on their first drive of the game, which started off at the 50-yard line. Quarterback, Casey Graham, went to the air for the opening play as he found the hands of Joe Hennings. Hennings gained seven yards off of the throw to bring up second and three from the 43. Two plays later, Forbush moved the chains with a nine yard gain by Nathan Hampton. The gain put the home team on the 34-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Forbush only needed two plays to advance past the first-down marker, and advance to the red zone. Derek Matthews put up eight yards, which was followed up with a pass by Graham to Hampton for 20-yards. As the chains moved to the six-yard line, Graham set up under his center and called the play. Wasting no time, Graham plowed through the middle of West Stokes defensive line to come up with a six-yard touchdown. The point after attempt by David Guadarrama was successfully, and the Falcons took a 7-0 lead with 9:56 left in the opening quarter.
Forbush’s second drive of the first quarter started with the ball on the 14-yard line. The Falcons set up in slot formation with Graham passing the ball downfield to Travon Martin. Martin was able to gain 14-yards off of the pass to give his team a new set of downs on the 28. The Falcons kept pushing down the field, with Martin earning a 10-yard pass reception and Matthews advancing for a 12-yard gain. On third and three from the 46, Graham set up under his center. Off of the play, Graham put the ball into the hands of Matthews who ran through the middle of the Wildcats’ defensive line. With the offensive line of Forbush putting up blocks, Matthews found a hole on the left side of the field and took off running. No one could come up with the stop, as Matthews ran into the end one for a 46-yard touchdown to put up another six points on the board. The kick by Guadarrama gave Forbush a 14-0 lead over West Stokes with 4:55 left in the quarter.
As the first quarter turned into the second, the Falcons had the ball on the 45-yard line. It took Forbush less than a minute to score its third touchdown of the night, with Hampton as the ring leader. The junior ran down the left sideline, out running two defensive players. As Hampton was nearing the end zone, he was faced one-on-one with a West Stokes defender. Hampton juked his way right, then came back to the left to slide past the defender. Hampton crossed the goal line and the Falcons were sitting pretty with a 21-0 lead.
Forbush’s second to last possession came with 8:51 left before halftime and lasted over four minutes. Over the course of the drive, the Falcons were able to convert two third down plays. On fourth-and-two from the seven-yard line, the Falcons were faced with a decision; go for the touchdown or kick a field goal. Forbush decided to go for the touchdown, and they made the most of the play.
On fourth-and-two from the seven-yard line, Graham handed the ball off to Matthews. The six-foot junior put his head down and powered through the defensive line to come up with another touchdown for the Falcons. The point after attempt was blocked, but a flag was thrown and upon further review West Stokes was called for roughing the kicker. Guadarrama retook the kick, and this time it went through the posts to give the Falcons a 28-0 lead.
Before the quarter came to an end, Forbush added another touchdown to the board. Graham passed the ball downfield to Martin for a 51-yard touchdown. At the break, the Falcons led West Stokes 34-0.
All of Forbush’s first and second quarter possessions ended with a touchdown. The Falcons had five drives on the night, and all five of them ended with points on the board. Defensively, Forbush only allowed the Wildcats one first down advancement. Out of West Stokes’ five drives, four of them ended with a punt while one ended with a turnover on downs.
Although Forbush had a highly successful opening two quarters, the third and fourth quarters saw the home team fail to put points on the board. Although the Falcons did not add another touchdown, they were still able to hold off a comeback from West Stokes.
Both teams had only one possession in the third quarter, with each team driving for more than five minutes. Forbush attempted a 28-yard field goal late in the third quarter, but it came up just short of the posts.
In the final quarter, Forbush gave up its eighth touchdown of the season. West Stokes came up with a three-yard touchdown run to add six points to the board. The Wildcats’ point after attempt was through the uprights to make the score 34-7. The visiting team was able to do what only three other teams have done this season, as they cleared Forbush’s clean sweep off the board.
Forbush successfully completed its undefeated regular season with a 34-7 win over West Stokes. Graham ended his night 12-for-18, with 137-yards, and his longest pass of 51-yards. Luke Bennett had one carry for six yards, Hampton had one carry for 55-yards, Hutchens had four carries for 22-yards, and Matthews put up 14 carries for 133-yards. Hampton (1) , Graham (1), and Matthews (2) all had touchdowns for the Falcons. Defensively, Matthew Greeson had the lone sack for the home team.
The Falcons ended their Western Piedmont Athletic Conference season with a 6-0 record, and a split championship with Walkertown. The Falcons were unable to play Walkertwon due to COVID restrictions, which forced the teams to do a coin toss for the top seed for the playoff seeding. Walkertown came away with the win, which gave the Falcons the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
The No. 7 seed means the Falcons will be on the road for the opening round of the 2A playoffs. Forbush will have to travel up the mountain to take on No. 2 Mountain Heritage (4-1) on Friday night. Both teams are fairly level when it comes to comparing the stats. The Cougars are undefeated at home, while Forbush has not lost a road game this season.
Both teams have averaged over 30 points per game, with Forbush edging out the Cougars by seven points. Mountain Heritage runs the ball more than the Falcons, as the Cougars have averaged 271 rushing yards per game. Forbush has rushed for an average of 236 yards. The passing game is where the Falcons will have the upper hand. Forbush has averaged 175.3 passing yards, while the Cougars have only averaged 56 passing yards per game.
Forbush will have to bond together across the board to come up with a win over the Cougars on Friday night. If the Falcons go into the game firing on all cylinders, there is a chance they can take the win and pull off a first round upset. Friday’s kick-off is set for 7 p.m. in Burnsville, at Mountain Heritage High School.
Reach Kristian on Twitter @YadkinElkSports