FORNEY, Texas — North Forney had to win Friday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. That would be a tall task considering the opponent, Royse City, was 7-1 on the season and in second place in the district.
In the first half however, the Falcons would make it look as though they were the 1 loss team. A 35-0 first half lead would help pave the way for a 49-39 Falcons win in what turned out to be one of the craziest games ever played at City Bank Stadium.
After North Forney won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff, The Falcons would be flagged for an illegal forward handoff on the reverse attempt on the return. Due to that the Falcons would start the opening drive from inside their own 1-yard line. They were only able to muster one first down on the drive before punting the ball and giving Royse City great field position at the North Forney 44-yard line. Things didn’t look good for the Falcons.
That outlook soon changed.
The Bulldogs first play got blown up for a 5-yard loss by Falcons safety Jewelz Demps. On the very next play, Royse City quarterback Tyson Oliver attempted a screen pass to wide receiver Michael Alphin but instead found the hands of Falcons linebacker DeMarcus Kirk who raced the interception back 49 yards for a score and 7-0 North Forney lead after the extra point kick from Carlos Rodriguez.
After the Falcons defense would force a Bulldogs punt on the next possession, the Falcons would take over at their own 32-yard line. The Falcons would use a unique and interesting formation often referred to as the “swinging gate” to rip off their first big play offensively. With only two linemen next to the ball and the other three about 15 yards away on the opposite side of the field North Forney quarterback Jacob Acuna would keep the ball up the middle for a 38-yard gain setting the Falcons up for their first offensive score of the night.
On 3rd and 14 from the Bulldog’s 33 yard-line Acuna would again take off but this time on a scramble from a broken-down pass play. He would juke a Royse City defender before tight roping the sideline for a Falcons touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
The Falcons defense would again come up strong forcing a Bulldog punt near midfield. The offense would then do their part. Acuna would connect with tight end/wide receiver Kam Allen on a slant over the middle that went 53 yards and placed North Forney inside the 5 after a facemask penalty against Royse City. On the very next play Acuna would keep the read option and dive in for a touchdown and a 21-0 Falcons lead after the Rodriguez extra point.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Another defensive stop from the Falcons would lead to a Bulldogs punt and then, two plays later a North Forney touchdown when Acuna would decide to throw on a run/pass option to wide receiver Nick Booe who shook his defender and then outran the rest of the pursuing Bulldogs to the endzone for a 59-yard score and 28-0 Falcons lead with 53 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Booe would finish the game with 159 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 catches.
After a forced punt and turnover on downs defensively, the Falcons would score again. With a 1st and 10 from the Royse City 30-yard line, North Forney would bring their wide receivers in closer to the formation to cause traffic and confusion. Acuna would roll out to his right before throwing back to the left side of the field to find Nick Booe who got lost by the defense coming across all of the mess in the middle of the field. Booe would go untouched for the 30-yard touchdown and the Falcons would lead 35-0 with 7:46 to play in the 2nd quarter.
Royse City would cut the lead to 35-7 when running back Ahmon Petty-Dozier would run in from 19 yards out with 7 seconds left in the first half.
The first half was dominated by North Forney. The Falcons, considering the level of competition, played arguably their GREATEST HALF EVER of football.
That momentum would be short-lived, however.
Including the touchdown with 7 seconds left in the first half, Royse City would rattle 4 straight touchdowns and a field goal to cut the once 35-0 Falcons lead to just 35-31. The Bulldogs touchdowns would be scored by Ahmon Petty-Dozier who ran for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries, Tyson Oliver and Peyton Petroff.
Royse City’s scoring drives would consist of 9,8,3,12 and 18 plays and go lengths of 87,73,60,58 and 73 yards. It was the last of those that would be the most important. North Forney, after giving up 67 yards on 17 plays were able to force a field goal from the Bulldogs instead a touchdown preserving the 35-31 lead.
North Forney was reeling.
Even with holding Royse City to a field goal and preserving the lead there wasn’t a whole lot of good feelings to be found anywhere on the North Forney side of the stadium. Things didn’t look good. The Falcons have had trouble closing out games this year (Corsicana and Greenville) in which they led in the fourth quarter. This game was starting to have that same eerie feeling.
The Falcons would respond HEROICALLY.
Jacob Acuna, who easily had his best performance in a Falcons uniform, found Kam Allen on another slant across the middle. This time there were multiple defenders in the area, but a sharp throw and focused catch started a 65-yard touchdown that was finished off with Allen (3 catches, 122 yards and 1 touchdown) being able to outpace two Royse defenders the rest of the way to the endzone. That happened on 3rd down and 5. A punt there and the Bulldogs would’ve more than likely continued their momentum and threatened to take the lead.
Instead the Falcons did convert in a huge way on 3rd down and led 42-31 with 6:05 to play in the 4th quarter.
Royse City still had plenty of time to do what they had been doing all of the second half… score.
However, while attempting a double move on the outside Oliver would be intercepted by Jacob Donaldson. Donaldson would make an incredible contested catch that would all but seal the deal for North Forney.
Just for good measure Jacob Acuna would put this game out of reach for good. On the following possession up 42-31 and facing a 3rd down and 6, Acuna would take off for a 71-yard touchdown on a designed quarterback keeper and the Falcons would go ahead 49-31 with 4:19 to play in the game.
Royse City would get one more touchdown late from Petroff, but it wouldn’t be enough. North Forney would win 49-39 in a game for the ages.
Jacob Acuna would finish the night 18 of 26 for 307 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He would also add 159 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. He would produce easily the greatest performance in a game from a Falcons quarterback since someone named Colby Suits.
Ty Collins, who came into the game as a top 5 rusher in 5A-II in the area would admirably take on the role as the decoy against Royse City. With the Bulldogs completely focused on stopping North Forney’s Leading rusher, the Falcons coaching staff decided to use Collins as “bait” and feature the rest of the offense tonight. Collins finished the night with only 8 carries for 14 yards.
The Falcons will still need to win next week and get some help from other teams in the district to make playoffs, but on Friday against Royse City they did their part.
North Forney will travel to Sulphue Springs next week to take on the Wildcats. Kickoff is at 7:30pm and the radio broadcast starts at 7:10pm on YouTube and the SHN sports network.