Titan playoff run ends with loss to Butler Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, the third time is not always a charm.

West Forsyth discovered as much during their third round state playoff game against Matthews Butler last Friday night.

Matched against the Bulldogs in the 4-AA state playoffs for the third time in the past five years, the hosting Titans could not solve an explosive Butler offense and suffered a season-ending 48-7 loss. Butler, which also downed West by significant margins in the other two meetings, advances to play Mallard Creek in the state semifinals this Friday night. With two more wins, they will successfully defend their state title.

West, which entered the matchup on a 10-game winning streak, struck first with an impressive 87-yard drive that was capped off by a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Darion Slade to receiver Schiem Lindsay. Lindsay caught three passes during the six-play march. Ben Esposito provided the extra point kick.

In addition to keeping the home crowd on its feet, the score provided something the Titans had been unable to attain in their previous two games against Butler — an early lead.

That lead, however, quickly dissipated as the Bulldogs answered back with a score of their own.

Led by the tremendous play-making ability of junior quarterback Anthony Ratliff, the Bulldogs then went on a second-quarter scoring spree that produced four touchdowns and a commanding 34-7 lead at the half. Ratliff, who rushed for 80 yards and passed for 178, ran for two of the TDs during the decisive outburst.

“He (Ratliff) is a special player, no doubt about it,” West coach Adrian Snow said afterwards. “He ran it well and threw it well. We couldn’t stop him.

“Obviously it wasn’t our best night of the year. But a lot of that had to do with the way their team played.”

The loss left West with a 12-2 overall record but did little to tarnish a banner year.

In addition to the 10-game winning streak, West also went undefeated in conference play for the first time in 10 years. And their total of 12 wins is the second most for a single season in West school history. Only the 1989 Titans (13 wins) won more games.

“I told our kids that there was absolutely nothing to hang their heads about,” Snow added. “They achieved some things that hadn’t been achieved at West Forsyth in a very long time. And I was especially proud of our seniors. They were told they wouldn’t win more than two or three games this year. But they decided not to listen to the critics and took it upon themselves to show what determination can do. Overall, it was a memorable year.”