DOBSON — Surry Central wrapped up its first Western Piedmont Athletic Conference title with a 41-25 win over Forbush.
The Falcons’ offense showed flashes in the third quarter, but the Golden Eagles kept up the pressure all game long, scoring at least one touchdown in every quarter.
With a blowout win by Carver over West Stokes, the Eagles clinched the league title with a week left in the regular season.
Coach Monty Southern received a water-cooler dunking after claiming his first championship, and the first for Central since 2005 when the team was part of the Mountain Valley Conference.
In past years, Surry Central has used a lot of motion and deception to orchestrate an offense heavy on run plays. Not in this game. Quarterback Chandler Johnson shared the ball all over the field, with receiver Jed Kidd doing the majority of damage.
Johnson rushed for two TDs himself, while also passing for three scores — two of them by Kidd, who went over the 100-yard mark in the game.
Martin Palacios added another touchdown on a long kickoff return while also making 5 of 6 extra points.
“We played well,” said Southern. “Chandler has just been doing a great job all year of the getting the ball to the person he should get it to.”
That was no more evident than when the senior quarterback fired a ball up the left side with only 2:20 remaining.
“All the guys trust that he’s going to make the right read,” the coach said of his QB. “That last touchdown? That was the boy’s first varsity catch of his career. It was the right read, and a great Senior Night memory.”
Leading by nine points, Johnson hit Dakota Mills for an 18-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach.
“I am tickled for our seniors, but I’m just super proud of the whole team,” said Southern. “They always play hard.”
On the coin flip, the Eagles won, but deferred to the second half. Then the defense made a stop after a personal foul moved the ball across the midfield line.
The Eagles took over inside their own red zone, but on third-and-9, Johnson heaved a ball up the left sideline right in front of the Forbush bench. Kidd caught the ball at midfield and outran a defender to the end zone for an 81-yard score.
Palacios had his only miss of the night, which made it 6-0 with 8:25 in the first.
Forbush fullback Zane Johnson ran for a first down, then got 15 more yards for a facemask penalty, again getting the Falcons into Eagle territory.
Forbush QB Jackson Cooper mishandled a snap in the shotgun, and Central’s Forrest Antwine jumped on it.
Unfortunately, the Eagles fumbled the ball right back, giving Forbush its third possession in Eagle territory.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense took over at the 9-yard line.
The offense couldn’t move the ball, and Kidd punted from his own end zone. He sent a long ball up the right side that bounded to the Forbush 45.
Jed has done a great job all season, said Southern. “He’s flipped the field so many times this year. He doesn’t get enough credit for it, but he’s the best punter we’ve had in a long time.”
The defense forced another three-and-out. On a scramble, however, Johnson was stripped of the ball. Lineman Austin Edwards fell on the ball, but the team was backed up to third-and-21. On fourth down, however, Kidd had another good punt and pushed Forbush back to its 15.
Forbush picked up one first down before stalling. The punt started Central on its 27.
Johnson hit Ethan Danley on a pass for one first down. Then Riley Dockery picked up another on the ground.
Johnson was running on the outside and was both grabbed by the face mask and then hit by a second defender out of bounds.
The two penalties resulted in 20 yards and another first down.
From the 15, Johnson called his own number for a touchdown run. That made it 13-0 with 4:48 in the half.
Forbush would get on the scoreboard thanks to a long run from massive running back Zane Johnson, 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Lined up in the I, Johnson went left and broke some tackles on a 60-yard run to the 9-yard line. However, he came up limping on the play and didn’t come back in the second half.
Cooper faked a handoff that had the entire defense fooled, and he jogged into the end zone. With a missed PAT, it was 13-6 at the half.
Then came a wild third quarter that saw five touchdowns in 10 minutes.
Forbush tried a squib kick. One of the blockers caught the ball, turned and tossed it back to Palacios, who streaked up the middle and through the defense for a long touchdown return. Just 17 seconds into the half, Central led 20-6.
Without its fullback, Forbush tried spreading the field the entire second half. Only three linemen played over the ball, with two blockers lined up on both sides of the field. One receiver hid behind the blockers on each side, setting up chances for quick bubble screens.
The first one caught Central off-guard, and Tony Douglas took a short pass for a 58-yard touchdown reception. That made it 20-12 at 10:05.
Eric Ramirez got a first down with his legs, then Chandler Johnson had a couple of runs down to the 27-yard line. After a Forbush timeout, Johnson weaved through the defense and pulled a tackler over the goal line. That made it 27-12.
However, the Falcons refused to go away.
Cooper used another fake handoff to get open and streaked 54 yards for a score to make it 27-19, with Forbush’s only extra point of the game.
Forbush used that spread formation some last season, said Southern, so the defense did see it in practice a little this week, but it was still an unusual look.
“Coach (Chris) Johnson gets the most out of kids by coming up with good ideas like that,” Southern said. “The quarterback is slippery in the open field, and that alignment spread defenders out.”
The only punt of the quarter came on the next drive, giving the ball back to Forbush with some momentum. The Falcons marched from their 25 to midfield.
Cooper was nearly sacked as Antwine got a hand on the jersey, but couldn’t finish the play. Then Chase Boone nearly got a sack, but was knocked out of the way by what appeared to be an illegal block in the back.
With many of the Eagle defenders in the backfield, Cooper flung a long pass downfield that was caught by a wide-open Shane Hutchens for a 51-yard touchdown.
A two-point conversion would have tied the game, but Central held.
The Eagles marched all the way to the Forbush 29 before turning the ball over on downs at the end of the third quarter.
A holding penalty hurt Forbush and led to a punt deep in the Falcons’ own end. The punt only made it to the Forbush 38-yard line.
Noah Wilmoth got a first down on the ground. Johnson faked a handoff to Ramirez to the left, then threw a ball deep into the right corner of the end zone to Kidd for a 27-yard touchdown to make it 34-25 with 9:26 left.
The defense forced a three-and-out, but on the punt, the return man coughed up the ball, giving Forbush new life on Central’s 36.
Cooper tried to go deep in the middle, but Kidd was on defense and broke up the play. Then Cooper tried to go deep on the right side, but Kidd intercepted the ball at the 4.
Ramirez broke three tackles on a key 29-yard run. Then Kidd caught a slant pass and went 28 yards to the Forbush 17.
Going for it on fourth down, Johnson hit Mills for an 18-yard TD pass to make it 41-25 with 2:20 left.
Forbush ran four running plays to finish out the clock.
The Eagles improve to 9-1 and 4-0 in WPAC. The team travels to West Stokes next week.
While the Eagles have already clinched first place, Southern said he would love to go ahead and finish the conference season unblemished, which would also be his first 10-win season.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.