DOBSON — Surry Central coach Monty Southern said it best before Friday’s game against Forbush even kicked off: high school is all about making memories.
The Golden Eagles hosted the Forbush Falcons on Friday in a battle of two of the teams tied for first place in the Foothills 2A Conference. The high stakes game was a defensive showcase that saw players go to war in the trenches, making the other team fight for every single yard.
The game was physical, in-your-face and featured a dramatic finish – the perfect environment to do as Southern said and make some lasting memories. In the end, it was Memphis Bolatto’s second interception of the night that sealed the victory for Surry Central, 17-12.
Surry Central (5-2, 3-0 FH2A) relied on its defense for much of the second half. After putting up all 17 of its points in the first two quarters, the Eagles were held without a first down in the second half.
Forbush (5-2, 2-1 FH2A) started the second half by forcing a three-and-out then scoring on a 9-play, 4:07 drive. The Eagles stopped Forbush’s wrecking ball running back Derek Matthews on the 2-point conversion to keep the score at 17-12. As the Central players returned to the sidelines after stopping the conversion, the coaching staff emphasized just how important that stop was.
Matthews came into Friday’s game just four days removed from a superstar performance against North Surry. The senior carried the ball close to 40 times for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Against Surry Central, Forbush only recorded 268 total yards as a team.
Surry Central punted back to Forbush after another three-and-out. The Falcons started on their own 5-yard line and slowly advanced down the field with 11-consecutive running plays, but only two of those plays went for more than 10 yards. The drive started with 4:15 left in the third quarter and ended with 11:16 remaining in the fourth.
The Eagles kept Matthews from gaining a single yard on four of his carries on the drive, with the biggest such stop coming on fourth-and-3 on the Central 28-yard line. Surry Central senior Kade Norman made the first hit on the fourth-down stop.
Surry Central was quickly faced with a fourth-and-1 situation and the Eagles went for it. However, the Eagles’ run was stopped at the line of scrimmage. As the players returned to the sideline, Southern assured them he wouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down if he didn’t have complete faith that the defense, if needed, could contain Forbush.
Central’s Graden Spurlin hit Matthews for a 4-yard loss, Norman led a flock of Eagle defenders to take Forbush’s Nathan Hampton down for a 2-yard loss, then Dante Watson deflected a pass on third down. Another incomplete pass from Forbush’s Holden Moxley turned the ball over on downs.
Forbush had four offensive possessions during the fourth quarter. The first two ended with the Falcons turning the ball over on downs, and the final two each ended with Bolatto intercepting Moxley.
Bolatto’s first interception came with 3:41 left to play. Central forced Forbush to use its remaining timeouts before punting to the Falcons with 2:27 remaining. Forbush made it all the way to the Central 46 before Bolatto picked Moxley a second time with 47 seconds left on the clock.
Bolatto’s seven interceptions this season are the most of any player in the state’s 2A division and tied for the most in the state among all divisions.
Bolatto wasn’t the only Eagle with defensive highlights. Mason Cox blocked a Forbush punt in the first half, and it was recovered by Norman to set up Brian Williams’ 35-yard touchdown run. Norman had two sacks and two tackles for a loss, Enoc Lopez, Clay Whitaker and Crouse each had a sack, and Andres Gonzalez, Crouse and Spurlin each had tackles for a loss.
Forbush – 0, 0, 6, 0 = 12
Surry Central – 7, 10, 0, 0 = 17
7:09 SCHS 7-0 – Brian Williams 35-yard rushing TD, Jacob Edmonds PAT
11:06 SCHS 10-0 – Jacob Edmonds 44-yard field goal
5:09 FHS 10-6 – Derek Matthews 10-yard rushing TD, PAT no good
0:53 SCHS 17-6 – Karson Crouse 2-yard rushing TD, Jacob Edmonds PAT
6:32 EHS 14-27 – Holden Moxley pass to Nathan Hampton 34-yard TD reception, 2-point conversion no good
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith