FORNEY, Texas — Homecoming 2019 will forever go down in history as a win for the Jackrabbits as they defeat the Terrell Tigers Friday night 16-7. This win improves the Jackrabbit season record to 2-2 and a district record to 1-1.
Much of the credit for this Jackrabbit win goes to the outstanding play of the Forney offensive line. AJ Shultz, Micah Owens, Brayden Carroll, Reese Mercer and Alex Bowen. These guys rarely get the credit they deserve, but Friday night this game was won in the trenches.
Wind gusts made throwing the football a daunting task for both teams, so they were responsible for opening up holes for RB Jayln Phillips and Josh Stephens all night. Forney compiled an impressive 238 yards rushing led by Phillips with 122 yards and 2 TDs.
Forney received the opening kick and proceeded to march right up the field for an 80 yard touchdown drive. The drive featured runs by RB/Wildcat QB Josh Stephens, QB Campbell Anderson and ultimately capped off by a 13 yard TD run by RB Jayln Phillips. Fighting with wind, the Jackrabbits decided to go for 2 on the PAT, but the pass was incomplete, making the score 6-0.
The ensuing kickoff bounced off the hands of the Terrell returner and right into the hands of the Jackrabbits at the Tiger 49 yard line. Forney drove up the field again but were stopped short on the drive when QB Anderson was tackled at the 2 yard line, mere inches short of the first down.
Finally, with just a few minutes remaining in the first quarter, Jackrabbit fans got to see the defense for the first time. The defense most certainly delivered. Led by Junior LB Dalbrett Ndzishangong, the defense held the Tigers to just three plays before forcing a punt and getting their offense back onto the field.
The offense marched right down the field once again, but this time it was a fumble at the 5-yard line that preventing the Jackrabbits from scoring. The Tigers then run the old “Hook and Lateral” for what looked to be a touchdown until Senior DB Keyshon Johnson turned on the afterburners and caught the ball carrier at the 2-yard line. Unfortunately, the Tigers ultimately scored and made their PAT, giving them a 7-6 lead at halftime.
In the second half, both teams struggled to get anything going offensively. Junior DL Cannon Donlay came up big multiple times for the Jackrabbit defense as they forced a couple of Terrell punts into the wind, giving Forney outstanding field position. Stalling out on offense, Coach Aaron Woods asked for his kicker, Colby Ortega to kick a 47-yard field goal. Colby delivered, giving the Jackrabbits a 9-7 lead.
Another Terrell fumble, and a Jackrabbit turnover on downs, left about 5 minutes in the game with Terrell having the ball and driving down the field. 3rd down and deep into Jackrabbit territory, Sophomore LB Dylan Patrick flushed the Terrell QB out of the pocket and hurried him into a bad throw. This brought 4th down and the Tiger kicker into the game to kick a 43-yard go-ahead field goal with the wind at his back and less than 3 minutes left in the game.
On the field goal attempt, Junior DB Zerek Waters breaks through the line, blocks the kick, scoops up the ball, and races downfield for the game clinching touchdown. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct call by the officials takes the points off the board and the Jackrabbit offense takes over from the Tiger 24-yard line. The Jackrabbits would not be denied again as the offense moves right up the field scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run, again by Philly.
Phillips ended the day with 23 carries for 122 yards and 2 TDs. Stephens had 13 carries for 58 yards, and Anderson had 6 carries for 51 yards. Brayden Kirkland led the Forney receivers with 3 catches on a night in which the passing attack was not utilized, given the wind gusts. Dalbrett Ndzishongong led the defense with 13 tackles on the night.
Next week the Jackrabbits will travel to Royse City to play a game that could very much determine whether or not Forney will make the playoffs. The Bulldogs are 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in district. While it is still too early in the year to call this a “must win” for the Jackrabbits, in District 8 5AII, you will certainly need to stack wins together if you want to remain in contention. Tune in to the game on www.sportsgram.net and listen to Brandon, Nate and Ben bring you all of the action.