As the Reagan Raiders prepared to take on the West Forsyth Titans at Jerry People Field on Friday night, they knew they would have to play a nearly perfect game to beat the Titans. The Raiders played with great emotion and gave the Titans all they could handle, but at the final horn were on the short end of the 31-21 score, a result of the 1-2 punch of West. You might ask, “What is the 1-2 punch of West Forsyth?” The answer on Friday night was the two Titan players who wear numbers 1 and 2 -G’Mone Wilson (#1) and Kendall Williams (#2). These two players made the key plays to earn the victory for West Forsyth. Wilson, an outstanding running back, got West off to a fast start with three first-half touchdowns and amassed 247 yards on 33 carries for the game. Williams, a defensive back, scored the winning touchdown for the Titans in the second half, running a fumble back for the crucial score. Williams also handled punt return duties for West and provided his team with important field position.
As the game began, both teams realized they were playing to keep their chances for the Central Piedmont Conference championship alive so neither team held anything back. Therefore, the initial fifteen minutes of the game resembled a track meet as the explosive offenses of the two teams marched up and down the field as the defenses were unable to contain them. West Forsyth’s #1 punch, G’Mone Wilson reached the end zone on three runs during this time, and Reagan countered with two touchdowns of its own. Wilson’s first scoring dash was a 55-yard sprint, which gave the Titans a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game. However, after the Titan kickoff, it took Reagan only one play—a 90-yard gallop by Tazhae Woods on a reverse—to knot the score at 7. West answered on its ensuing possession with Wilson reaching pay dirt after a 3-yard run, which capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive. Not deterred, Reagan responded again on a 60-yard drive that culminated with quarterback Gabriel Hollingsworth bowling over several Titan defenders on his 31-yard run to the end zone. With the game tied at 14 and 11:41 remaining in the second quarter, West mounted another scoring drive starting at its own 35-yard line. It took the Titans seven plays to cover sixty-five yards, and Wilson scored his third touchdown plowing 2 yards through the Reagan defense. West led 21-14 with 9:43 left in the first half.
At this point, the defenses stiffened and neither team was able to score again before the half ended. However, Reagan allowed one golden scoring opportunity to slip away after starting a drive at the West 40-yard line. The Raiders drove the ball to the 9-yard line where they had a first-and-goal. After three rushing attempts, Reagan faced a 4th and goal from the 3-yard line. Coach McGee chose to attempt a 20-yard field goal, but C. J. Hill’s kick was blocked by the Titans’ 6’5” Patrick Smith with 48.6 seconds remaining in the half.
The second half opened with Reagan receiving the kickoff, and it took the Raiders less than three minutes to cover ninety yards and tie the score at 21. The touchdown came on a 4-yard shovel pass from Hollingsworth to Tazhae Woods. With momentum on its side, the Raider defense stopped the Titans’ offense on a 4th and 4 at the Reagan 37, and the Raider offense took the field. On the first play, the ball was handed off to Bryson Canty. Canty was hemmed in by the Titan defense, and while trying for extra yardage, Titan linebacker Mack David knocked the ball loose. Now the Titans’ #2 punch appeared—#2 Kendall Williams. Williams picked up the loose football and scampered 35 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. After a successful extra point from Jaylen James, the Titans enjoyed a 28-21 lead with 5:02 remaining in the third quarter.
As the quarter neared its close, Reagan’s Woods intercepted a Jalen Ferguson pass and gave the Raiders another scoring opportunity from the West Forsyth 45-yard line. Three plays failed to net a first down so Reagan punted to none other than Kendall Williams. Williams caught the punt at the West 24-yard line and 76 yards later was in the end zone. Unfortunately for Williams and the Titans, a Titan blocker was flagged for holding during the return which negated Williams’ superb effort.
Neither team was able to sustain a drive in the final quarter until West took possession with 7:19 left in the game. The Titans gained possession on the Reagan 38-yard line following a short punt and marched to the 1-yard line where they earned a first-and-goal. On the succeeding play, there was a fumble in the Titan’s backfield, and the Raiders’ Isaiah Reid came up with the ball giving Reagan life with five minutes remaining. However, the Titans’ defense did not allow the Raiders a first down and forced another punt. The punt was fielded by Kendall Williams at the Reagan 32 and returned to the 16-yard line. With the aid of a Reagan penalty on the return, the Titans began the possession with a first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. After losing 4 yards in three plays, West settled for a 30-yard field goal from Jaylen James that extended the Titans’ lead to 31-21 with only 2:56 left in the game.
The Raiders made one final push and quickly moved the ball to the West 20-yard line where they faced a fourth-and-one. Hollingsworth tried to run for the first down but was dropped for a one-yard loss by Mack David ending Reagan’s hopes. West simply ran out the remaining 1:50 to earn the hard-fought victory and keep its conference title hopes alive.
In explaining his outstanding game, Wilson mentioned that he had added incentive because he had not forgotten that Reagan eliminated the Titans in the first round of the state playoffs last season. Additionally he stated, “Coach Snow told the backs to run with a purpose and that’s what I did tonight-run with a purpose.” Did he ever!
And he heaped praise on West’s offensive line saying “They some dogs. They do it every game. Without them I’d be nothing.”
Kendall Williams attributed his winning touchdown to Coach Snow’s philosophy that everyone just needs to do their part. He said, “I did my part—saw the ball on the ground, picked it up and scored.” He definitely did his part!
Coach Snow was very complimentary of his squad and was “proud of the way they played.” He called the victory a “great team effort” and was excited for his players.
In looking forward to next Friday night’s showdown with Glenn for the conference championship, the Titans’ 1-2 punch and Coach Snow shared their feelings about the key contest.
Wilson believes the matchup between West Forsyth’s offensive line and Glenn’s defensive line should be interesting because both lines are very good. Meanwhile Williams said he is looking at the game as just another game and feels that West “should step up and do their job and win the conference championship.” And Coach Snow said playing for the championship is “awesome.” He is excited for his kids and continued, “It’s one of those situations that we gotta go and get ready. At the end of the day it should be fun. We had a good one there a couple years back. There were a bunch of people there and that’s probably what’s going to happen again. Just gotta be ready to play.”