The defending State 4-A football champions, the East Forsyth Eagles, are moving on to the third round of the state playoffs, but it took a concerted second half effort by the Eagles to defeat the Davie County War Eagles last Friday evening at Fred E. Lewis Stadium 49-21.
East Forsyth and Davie County, both members of the 4-A Central Piedmont Conference, met only three weeks ago during the regular season with East powering to a 49-35 victory. Therefore, most experts thought this earlier matchup would be fresh on the minds of the players and result in a hotly contested rematch. The teams were evenly matched in the first half, as the score at the break was 14-14. However, the second half belonged to the Eagles as they stepped up their level of play leaving the War Eagles far behind.
After exiting the locker room following halftime, East Forsyth wasted little time in pushing into the lead. Starting at their own 29-yard line, it took the Eagles only four plays to get into the end zone. A key 74-yard completion from quarterback Ty Lyles to tight end Brendan Conway set up a 1-yard scoring run by Chris Chaplin. The PAT was successful from the foot of Andrew Conrad, and the Eagles led 21-14 only a minute and a half into the second half. The energized East Forsyth defense then held the Davie County offense to a three-and-out and turned it over to the offense again. This possession, which began at the East 32-yard line required six plays until the Eagles scored, this time on a 1-yard run by sophomore Traylon Ingram. Highlighting the drive was another long pass play, this time with Lyles hooking up with wide-out Jamison Warren for forty-eight yards. The PAT was good giving East a 14-point margin 28-14 with 6:41 still remaining in the third quarter.
When asked about his connection with his receivers Conway and Warren, Lyles commented, “Both of these guys just find a way to get open and they just know how to make plays.”
Leading by 14, the Eagles pressed on for more as they again stymied Davie’s offense and took possession at their own 25-yard line. Utilizing its strong rushing game, East moved down the field and culminated the drive with a 4-yard touchdown dash by Chaplin, his second score of the night. Conrad’s PAT was again true and East had a comfortable 35-14 lead as the teams headed into the final period.
Davie County finally got its offense moving following East’s third score of the half and earned a first-and-goal at the Eagles’ 8-yard line. Unfortunately for the War Eagles, the drive fizzled without a score, and East took possession at its own 9-yard line. Facing a long field could not deter East from driving for another score. With the East offensive line continuing to open large holes in the Davie County defensive line, the Eagles drove down the field in eight rushing plays to score again, this time on a 2-yard run by Joseph Brown. A nifty 47-yard run by Robbin Smith ate up a big chunk of yardage in the drive. With only 4:13 remaining in the game, East held an insurmountable 42-14 advantage.
Following the ensuing kickoff, Davie County finally found the end zone after taking over on its own 35-yard line. DeVonte Lyerly took the handoff on the first play and sprinted 65 yards through the Eagles’ defense for a War Eagle touchdown. However, the Eagles answered swiftly as the duo of Lyles and Warren struck again—this time it was 49-yard strike that resulted in the final 49-21 score.
When asked about what happened in the East Forsyth locker room at halftime, East Head Coach Todd Willert remarked that things were calm, and the coaches simply made a couple of adjustments. He continued, “We just needed more effort. A lot of things that weren’t working was because we just didn’t do the things like we were coached to do during the week. The kids played a lot harder (in the second half) and they obviously did a great job.”
The War Eagles gave East Forsyth all they could handle in the first half and actually scored the first touchdown of the night, a 13-yard run by sophomore running back Tate Carney. The extra point by Guillermo Moure gave Davie a 7-0 lead with 3:21 left in the first quarter. East responded immediately after the kickoff return left the Eagles deep in their own territory at the 8-yard line. An impressive 64-yard run by Ty Lyles gave the Eagles a first-and-goal from the War Eagle 8, and Lyles capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. However, the extra point was no good and Davie County led 7-6 with 58 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
The defenses continued to dictate play in the second quarter with neither team’s offense able to get into the end zone until the Eagles finally scored on a 5-yard reception by Warren with 3:13 left in the quarter. The Eagles try for 2 points was successful as Lyles hit an open Conway with a pass in the end zone.
Finding themselves down 14-7, Davie County drove 63 yards for the tying score a minute before halftime. Quarterback Nate Hampton had a couple of 18-yard runs in the drive before Carney reached pay dirt from the 3-yard line. Moure’s PAT was good sending the teams into the locker room tied at 14.
Lyles had a terrific game for the Eagles rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jamison Warren. Lyles credited his offensive line for his success after the game stating, “Really it was just my 0-line. They were doing a lot of work. They were moving people out of the way.”
The loss ends a turnaround season for the Davie County War Eagles. Coming off of a 3-8 record in 2018, the War Eagles ended the current season with a 7-6 record including a 37-34 upset of conference champion West Forsyth. With several very talented players returning, Head Coach Tim Devericks should field a tough squad in 2020.
Meanwhile, East Forsyth will prepare to host Ragsdale in a third-round playoff matchup on Friday. Look for Coach Willert to again view this game from the press box, a new maneuver he has adopted for the past several games. The Eagles have been successful with Willert in his new vantage point and WIllert believes he “can see more stuff up there.” He is just “giving suggestions” because he “can see more things offensively, defensively, and special teams.” Willert added, “I don’t think I get caught up with all the stuff on the sidelines.”
We will see on Friday if this new tactic continues to pay dividends for the defending state champions.