Funny how two people can be involved in the same scenario and come out with differing opinions.
For West Forsyth head coach Shawn Cahill, the Wolverines’ 21-14 win Friday night at Pace Academy showed his team can finish tight ballgames. But on the other sideline, Pace head coach Chris Slade feels like his team let its season opener get away.
Trailing 21-0 at halftime, a remark by one of the West Forsyth coaches as the teams jogged into the locker room got Slade and his team fired up.
“One of their coaches said we should beat this team 49-0,” Slade said after the game, still visibly upset by the comment. “That fired me up and it fired our kids up.
“They said last year they let us off the hook,” said Slade of last season’s 20-10 win at West Forsyth in the first ever meeting between the two schools. “This year, we let them off the hook.”
The Wolverines (2-0) dominated the first half, using their spread-based, zone-read offense to keep Pace defenders off balance. West Forsyth took the opening kickoff and marched down the field and into the end zone when senior quarterback Zachary Burns hit junior Garrett Woodall with a 5-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.
Pace (0-1) couldn’t get going on offense and the Wolverines took over on a short field. West Forsyth proceeded to punch it in again, this time on a 1-yard run by junior Saxby Waxer to extend the lead to 14-0 after one quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, the Wolverines converted a Pace turnover into the third touchdown of the half. On third-and-long, Woodall got loose in the Knight secondary and Burns found him for a 17-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-0 at the half.
But fueled by the apparent slight by a West Forsyth coach, things changed dramatically in the second half. Pace took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards in 12 plays, and Keashawn Perryman ran in from 17 yards out to narrow the gap to 21-7. After a three-and-out by the Wolverine offense, Pace went on a 67-yard, 16-play drive the extended into the fourth quarter. Perryman scored early in the fourth on an 8-yard run to pull Pace to within a touchdown, 21-14.
“They weren’t physical up front. They weren’t dominating us at all,” Slade said. “They were just running it where we weren’t. We made some adjustments at halftime.”
West Forsyth had just three possessions in the second half. After managing just one first down on the first two, they made the third one count when on third-and-22, Burns found Bryce Jones deep down the middle of the field on a busted coverage by the Pace secondary. The 34-yard gain and a personal foul penalty on Pace one play later was all the Wolverines needed to run out the clock.
“Last year and in the past we would have lost a game like this one,” Cahill said. “This shows them that they can finish. We can finish and win tight games.”
Still for Slade, this one was the one that got away.
“Listen, I don’t care about them being [Class] AAAAAAA and us being AAA or whatever. We expected to win this game and we should have won this game,” Slade said. “I bet they won’t schedule us again next year.”
West Forsyth 14 7 0 0 21
Pace Academy 0 0 7 7 14
WF – Garrett Woodall 5 pass from Zachary Burns (Bryce Jones kick)
WF – Saxby Waxer 2 run (Jones kick)
WF – Woodall 17 pass from Burns (Jones Kick)
PA – Keashawn Perryman 17 run (Patrick Markwalter kick)
PA – Perryman 8 run (Markwalter kick)