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West Forsyth holds off Falcons, 21-14
West’s quarterback A.J. Erdely tries to break from a group of Flowery Branch players during Friday’s game at West Forsyth. - photo by AUTUMN VETTER

The Blitz, complete high school coverage

CUMMING – Whenever West Forsyth needed a big play, it got it.

With 3:16 remaining in the game, Tanner Bridges recovered a Flowery Branch onside kick to hinder a comeback, as the No. 10-ranked Class AAAAAA Wolverines knocked off Class AAAAA Falcons 21-14 on Friday night.

“I’m really proud of the defense tonight,” West head coach Frank Hepler said as students poured onto the field. “Flowery Branch has some real good athletes that can score at any time, and to only give up 14 (points) to them is pretty impressive.”

Junior quarterback A.J. Erdely was the star of West Forsyth’s offense, going 15-for-21 with 179 passing yards and 81 rushing, completing 12 straight completions to start the game and accounting for all three West touchdowns.

The Wolverines came out firing on all cylinders as Erdely capped off an eight-play, 75 yard drive with a 47-yard scamper to the end zone for the game’s first score. On West’s second drive, Erdely found Jake Wieczorek for a 28-yard strike to the Falcons’ 1-yard line. Erdely then punched the ball in on a quarterback sneak.

“We were just clicking,” Erdely said. “The offensive line did great all night picking up the blitzes on every play. Wide receivers made amazing catches and we did really great all the way around.”

The Wolverines harassed Falcons’ quarterback Jackson McDonald, who made a few big plays but was held in check, completing 9 of 15 passes for 100 yards and 41 rushing yards. West defensive end Alec Coburn sacked McDonald twice.

“I was only focused on getting past the linemen,” Coburn said. “He’s a fast quarterback so I had to wrap him up and not give up on the play.”

Flowery Branch got on the board in the second quarter with a 2-yard run up the middle on fourth down from sophomore quarterback Darius Curry.

West tried to score again, as Erdely connected with Wieczorek for a 10-yard pass with 3:03 left before the half, but Wieczorek injured his back on the play and was forced to leave the game, racking up 91 receiving yards on seven catches.

West kicked a 47-yard field goal with 23 seconds left, but it fell short as West led 14-7 at halftime.

The third quarter was all West.

On fourth-and-2 with the ball on the Flowery Branch 2-yard line, Erdely rolled out of the pocket and nailed senior tight end Ty Anderson in the back of the end zone, as the Wolverines capped off a 14-play, 69-yard scoring drive that chewed up over six minutes, making the score 21-7.

“It’s all part of execution, calling those plays is something we work on in practice to give them that same intensity,” Hepler said. “Everything we’re doing right now is trying to get better for region play.”

McDonald found his stride in the fourth quarter with a 47-yard pass to senior receiver Jamaad Stephens. Stephens’ reception led to a 1-yard run up the middle by Justin Curry, who did his part for the Falcons with 203 yards on 21 carries, but it was a little too late as West ran out the clock after recovering the onside kick.

“We made some improvements, but we have to get better in a lot of areas,” Flowery Branch first-year head coach Chris Griffin said. “We made mistakes and we have to figure out how to fix those mistakes.”

West (2-0) will host Starr’s Mill next Friday night, while Flowery Branch (0-2) will travel to Cedar Shoals.

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