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Warriors survive Rockets’ suffocating defense for region win

Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 at 7:56 am

Post Photo by Kacy Kincaid Cohen Grissom barrels through the Marion County defense.

Post Photo by Kacy Kincaid The Rockets’ defense had no mercy on the Warriors Friday night. 

Post Photo by Kacy Kincaid Gavin Grissom carries for the Rockets. Grissom led with 116 yards. 

By Kacy Kincaid
Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — Though the Forrest Rockets (4-4, 1-2) were handed a 21-12 Region 4-2A loss Friday night against the Marion County Warriors (8-0, 2-0), the club has continued to show their resilience on both sides of the ball this season.
The Rockets were the first to put numbers on the board with Fletcher Fields dipping across the goal line from the one after Gavin Grissom’s 67-yard jaunt into the Warrior red zone.
After a failed extra point attempt, Forrest had the 6-0 lead with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
Unable to convert on the next drive, Marion County was forced to punt, but quickly regained possession after a Rocket interception at their own 30-yard line as the clock struck zero in the first frame.
The Warriors took advantage when quarterback Tilton Pickett found Sam Pickett on an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Lenox Williamson added the extra point to give Marion County the 7-6 lead with 10:33 left in the half.
After a pleasantly surprising first half, the Rockets headed to the locker room trailing by one.
“We knew we were in the ballgame,” said Forrest head coach Eli Stephenson. “We had to come out and make plays. We came out and scored. We had the momentum going.”
The Rocket energy was high heading into the third, shutting down Marion County on its first drive.
Forrest took over on its own 32 and a handful of Rockets worked together to move the chains to the Warrior 14-yard line.
In what has become a Forrest Friday night ritual, Fields put up a 14-yard touchdown run that was called back due to a penalty.
On the next play, Liam Bell carried for 13 yards, setting up Cohen Grissom to snatch a 3-yard touchdown carry with 3:08 left in the third frame.
The Rockets attempted the two-point conversion, but the attempt failed, leavin the Rockets with the 12-7 lead.
That lead didn’t last for long, though.
The Warriors took over at their own 32 yard line, and E.J. Wilson went on a 68-yard trek to the end zone.
Williamson split the uprights, and Marion County quickly regained the 14-12 lead.
The Rockets’ fire stayed lit, working their way to the Warrior 28-yard line where they set up to attempt a field goal.
A penalty pushed the Rockets back to the 33-yard line, and the kick was tipped and recovered by the Warriors at the 10 by Samuel Pickett who carried the pigskin to the Rocket end zone. There was a penalty on the play, and the Warriors set up on the Rocket 20 yard line. With 8:15 left to play, Pickett crossed the goal line once again from the one, the Warriors tightening their grip on the lead, 21-12.
Costly mistakes and penalties hindered the Rockets from taking further control of the game, the 21-12 score sticking as the final.
“We were in the ballgame the whole game,” said Stephenson. “At the end we just hurt ourselves. We got costly penalties at the wrong time.  We couldn’t keep our composure. But I’m proud of the way the kids played. They played with their heart and left it all out on the field. Win, lose, or draw, if they do that every time, I am proud of them.”
Gavin Grissom led both teams with 116 rushing yards on the night.
Forrest will host Moore County after a bye week next week.
The October 20 matchup against the Raiders will be the regular season home finale for the Rockets.
ickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.

Marion County 0 7 7 7 — 21
Forrest 6 0 6 0 — 12

First Quarter
F — Fletcher Fields 1 run 3:05 (kick failed).

Second Quarter
M — Sam Pickett 18 pass from Tilton Pickett (Lenox Williams kick) 10:33.

Third Quarter
F — Cohen Grissom 3 run 3:08 (conversion failed).
M — E.J. Wilson 68 run (Williamson kick) 2:56.

Fourth Quarter
M — S. Pickett 1 run (Williamson kick) 8:15.