PINE BELT (WDAM) - For the first two weeks of the 2017 high school football season, North Forrest High School had played tough but come up just short, losing by four points to Lumberton High School and falling on the road in double overtime to Magee High School.
Friday night, the Eagles broke through with a comeback that not only eased the pain but gave North Forrest its first non-region win in two seasons.
Senior quarterback Daylyn Croom turned in the scoring trifecta, throwing for one score, rushing for another and catching the game-winning touchdown pass as the Eagles rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to rally past Columbia High School 24-21 in Eatonville.
"We tell the guys, 'it's not how you start, it's how you finish,'" North Forrest coach Anthony Dillon said. "To overcome the adversity we had faced in those first two games and those first two quarters (Friday), I'm just so proud of our guys."
Columbia (2-1), which had averaged 44 points a game behind a bruising running game in runaway wins over Richton and East Marion high schools, turned to the ground again Friday.
Sophomore running back Kentrel Bullock, senior receiver Taveoungh Brown and junior quarterback Ralpheal Luter each ran for a score in the first half.
"Great first half, both offense and defense," Columbia coach James Harvey said. "Everything was operating both sides of the ball. Everything was working."
But North Forrest (1-2) got on the board in the third quarter when Croom connected with sophomore Ryhen Briscoe, and then found junior Jalen Grant with a two-point conversion pass to cut its deficit to 21-8.
After one of Columbia's six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions), Croom rushed for a touchdown and then passed to Briscoe for another two-point conversion to pull the Eagles within 21-16 heading into the fourth quarter.
"Six turnovers, you can't win like that," Harvey said.
With about 5 minutes left in the game, Dillon decided to stir the offensive pot a bit, sending Croom out wide with junior Leon Jones at quarterback.
"(Croom) is just such a great athlete, such a great route reader, and he did a great job there," Dillon said.
Jones found Croom with a soft ball in the back corner of the end zone to give North Forrest its first lead of the game, and Briscoe ran in the Eagles' third, two-point conversion of the game for the final margin.
North Forrest stopped Columbia on its next possession and then ground down the clock with a few first downs before turning the ball over on downs with just nine seconds to play.
"On the defensive side, all 11 of those guys played their (behinds) off," Dillon said.
Harvey said he hoped that Friday's loss would at least serve as a learning experience for his young Wildcats.
"Remember this and how you feel, remember this pain," Harvey said.
The Eagles will visit Sacred Heart High School at 7 pm. Friday. The Crusaders (2-1) fell 27-12 to Sumrall High School Friday.
Columbia will head to New Augusta to take on Perry Central at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (3-0) claimed a 21-7 road win at Pass Christian High School Friday.
Sumrall 27, Sacred Heart 12
HATTIESBURG _ Junior quarterback Billy Garrity threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Class 4A Bobcats put away the Class 1A Crusaders in the fourth quarter.
Sacred Heart pulled within 14-12 in the fourth quarter before Garrity put the game away with touchdown runs of 8 yards and 25 yards.
"We had a pretty good night, but a lot of penalties, the most we've been penalized in a long time," Sumrall coach Shannon White said. "They were all good calls. We just were a little sloppy and that really took away drives. We had some turnovers and that gave them some momentum, and Sacred Heart hung in there."
Garrity had put the Bobcats (2-1) ahead 7-0 after one quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Solomon Landrum and then 14-0 in the second on a 7-yard scoring pass to junior receiver Dannis Jackson.
Sacred Heart (2-1) cut the deficit to 14-6 at halftime when senior Cesar Mejia blocked a punt that senior Joseph Bishop recovered in the end zone.
After a scoreless third quarter, Sacred Heart got within two points of Sumrall on a 30-yard touchdown run by senior running back Campbell Klein.
But that's as close as the Crusaders could manage as they dropped their first game of the season.
"I thought the defense played great," Sacred Heart coach Lonnie Schraeder said. "They were on the field a lot and they just ran out of steam at the end.
"But we played our best game of the season. It hurts to lose, but we played tough. We're getting closer to where we want to be and where we need to be."
Junior running back Tyreke Preston rushed 120 yards for Sumrall, while Garrity added another 84 yards on the ground. Jackson had six catches for 132 yards.
The Crusaders turned the ball over four times, including three interceptions. Jackson, junior Zane Berry and Nijewel Coleman had a pick apiece for the Bobcats.
Junior quarterback Zach Weatherell completed 10 of 27 passes for 79 yards, while Klein rushed for 48 yards on eight carries. Bishop added 46 yards rushing on seven carries.
Defensively, Bishop finished with 10 tackles (seven solo), with three pass break-ups, fumble caused and a fumble recovered.
Junior Garrett Crowder led Sacred Heart with 16 tackles, while Hudson Garner had 15 stops, including 2 ½ tackles for loss. Junior Tanner Blakeney had eight tackles and recovered a fumble, while senior Paul Rowell had six tackles (four solo) and intercepted two passes.
Sumrall will travel to Enterprise (Clarke) High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (0-3) lost 50-18 to Stringer High School Friday. Enterprise has given up at least 47 points in each of its first three games.
Sacred Heart will welcome North Forrest High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Eagles (1-2) rallied for 24-21 victory over Columbia High School Friday.
Perry Central 21, Pass Christian 7
PASS CHRISTIAN _ Tijuane Bolton ran for two touchdowns and McKail Sumrall rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries as the Bulldogs ran past the Pirates on the road.
Sumrall also ran for a two-point conversion and turned in a 22-yard punt return as Perry Central (3-0) overcame a 7-0, first-quarter deficit.
The Bulldogs fell behind when Gaines Carter caught a 10-yard pass from Dustin Allison.
Bolton scored on a 22-yard run in the second quarter, but a missed extra point left Perry Central trailing 7-6 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Bolton scored on a 1-yard run and Sumrall ran in the conversion to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead before Sumrall iced the game with a 1-yard run later in the period.
Perry Central will visit Columbia High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats (2-1) lost 24-21 Friday at North Forrest High School.
Forrest County AHS 21, Pearl River Central 18
CARRIERE _ Senior Nathan Whitley ran for a pair of touchdowns and senior Cornelius Smith added another as the Aggies held off the Blue Devils.
"We've played pretty good defense all year, good enough defense to win every game we've played," first-year FCAHS coach Jeff Stockstill said. "But we've struggled some offensively, so we've got to get better there.
"We've played really hard, but we're still learning how to win."
FCAHS (2-1) took the opening kickoff and scored on Smith's run, but then sputtered offensively as PRC (0-3) scored on passes of 25 yards and 38 yards from senior quarterback Tristan Anderson to junior receiver Willie Reece for a 12-7
But just before halftime, Whitley popped a long scoring run to give the Aggies a 14-12 halftime lead.
"They had just taken the lead," Stockstill said. "We were on the negative side of the field, so it was probably a 60-yard, 65-yard run."
After a scoreless third quarter, FCAHS got the ball back with about 8 minutes left in the game and drove downfield. Whitley scored with about 1:30 left in the game for a 21-12 lead.
Anderson and Reece connected for a final time from 13 yards out to cut the Blue Devils' deficit to three points, but an on-side kick attempt failed and the Aggies pocketed the victory.
Stockstill praised senior punter/place-kicker Devan Bunch, who made all three of extra-point attempts and also helped the Aggies with field position.
"That was the difference in the game," Stockstill said. "He made ours and they didn't. He flipped the field a couple of times in the second half in our favor, and that was another big part."
Anderson completed 6 of 18 passes for 126 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Reece caught four passes for 105 yards and three scores, while senior running backs Louis Reece and Cody Skoda ran for 52 yards on 12 carries and 21 yards on four carries, respectively.
FCAHS will host Resurrection Catholic High School at 7 p.m. The Eagles (0-3) lost to Maplesville (Ala.) High School 33-6 Friday.
Pearl River Central has an open week before visiting St. Stanislaus High School at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15.