By Rickey Clardy
UNIONVILLE — Despite the Forrest Rockets using two successful fourth-down conversion attempts early to take a commanding lead, the Community Vikings were able to show some stability on offense and racked up some yardage with big gains as the young Vikings fell 49-8 in Community’s home football opener Friday night.
The Viking defense forced a fourth down on the first Rocket possession of the game, but Forrest was able to convert and followed with a 12-yard touchdown run by Liam Bell to take a 7-0 lead.
The Rockets faced another fourth down and long on their next possession, but once again converted. Forrest made it 14-0 as quarterback Aiden Cantrell connected with Bell on a 7-yard TD pass.
“We got them where we wanted them on fourth down, but we didn’t rally to the ball,” Coach Chris Grooms of the Vikings said.
With Rocket kicker Gavin Grissom consistently drilling the ball to the end zone on the Forrest kickoffs, the Vikings started their possessions deep in their territory for the entire game.
Starting their next possession at their own 16, the Vikings made some noise as quarterback Nyles Barnet connected with Maki Fleming.
Once in the open field, Fleming warded off several would-be Rocket tacklers en route to a 56-yard pass play to advance the ball to the Forrest 27.
But the Vikings could not find the end
zone as a fumble derailed the Community momentum.
“Our offense got some things going early, but we couldn’t string them all together,” Grooms said.
Two more Rocket touchdowns with the help of a Viking fumbled punt gave Forrest a 28-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
The Vikings had big plays in the second quarter as Fleming ran for 18 yards and Barnet connected on a 12-yard pass to Issac Jacobs and a 25-yard pass to Fleming, but Community could not muster a score.
Jaxson Stacey of the Vikings came up big with a fumble recovery, but the Rockets found the end zone twice as Forrest took a 42-0 lead to the intermission.
The Vikings orchestrated a drive to start the third quarter that produced six first downs and ended with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
With the Vikings starting at their own 20, Barnet connected with Daevion High for a 13-yard pass to move the sticks. Another pass play, this one for 12 yards from Barnet to Luis Butler and a 22-yard run by Braxtin Landers moved the Vikings into Rocket territory.
Facing fourth down, Landers ran for four yards to keep the drive alive. The Vikings moved to the red zone and faced a third down and eight as the quarter ended.
The Vikings found pay dirt to start the fourth quarter as Jacobs ran 14 yards for the score.
A pass from Barnet to Jacobs was good for two as Community ended the 12-minute scoring drive.
The Rockets added one fourth-quarter touchdown to end the scoring for the game.
“In the second half, since we’re so young, I told them we’re going to put the young kids out and we’re going to figure it out,” Grooms said. “When the game’s out of reach, we’re going to go to our young kids so they can get the reps and they’re getting ready for next year.”
“I’m excited to have these kids,” Grooms added.
Community entertains Cascade in the Battle of Bedford next Friday night.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Forrest 28 14 0 7 — 49
Community 0 0 0 8 — 8
F – Liam Bell 12 run, (Gavin Grissom kick) 10:12.
F – L. Bell 7 pass from Aiden Cantrell, (Grissom kick) 4:41.
F – Eli Bell 23 run (Grissom kick), 1:23.
F – Grissom 5 run (Grissom kick), 0:20.
F – L. Bell 2 run, (Grissom kick) 9:04.
F – Fletcher Fields 9 run (Grissom kick), 4:58.
C – Issac Jacobs 14 run, (Jacobs pass from Nyles Barnet) 11:45.
F – Jacob Tincher 27 run, (Grissom kick) 9:13.