West Forsyth remains undefeated: Chaplin returns from injury, has more than 200 yards rushing, four touchdowns

Published 5:23 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

MIDWAY — If there was any doubt about what West Forsyth was missing last week in its season-opening win against A.C. Reynolds, it found it Friday night at Oak Grove.

After missing the season opener because of a leg injury, senior Caman Chaplin came back with a vengeance Friday night after rushing for 255 yards on 18 carries, and four touchdowns to help West Forsyth remain undefeated with a 40-29 against Oak Grove.

Chaplin had touchdown runs of 55, 3, 8 and 60 yards, the last of which came with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter to help put the Titans (2-0) ahead 40-29.

“Amazing,” Chaplin said of his performance against the Grizzlies (1-1). “I mean, I’ve always planned on it the first game, but I couldn’t. But, hey, do it the second game. I do what I do. I’ve gotten a lot better since last year, but hey, I’m going to do what I’m going to do.”

Although Chaplin scored four touchdowns and rushed for well over 200 yards, it took him a little while to get going. That changed early in the second quarter. With the Titans trailing 14-6, Chaplin burst through the gap and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. Jordan Stevens tacked on a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Bert Rice to tie the game at 14-14.

“I was a bit nervous,” Chaplin said. “It was the first game back, but still, after the first hit, first play, I’m back. I was ready to rock and roll.”

Although West Forsyth knocked off A.C. Reynolds 9-7 in the opener at Jerry Peoples Stadium, it was hard for the offense to get untracked. That changed in a big way against Oak Grove.

“He’s a player,” Coach Kevin Wallace of the Titans said. “He’s a player. He’s fast. He’s a great inside-the-tackle runner. He knows when to bounce, and he goes out in space and makes moves.”

It wasn’t all Chaplin Friday night for West Forsyth. West Forsyth took possession with 7:33 left in the second quarter. The possession stalled, but punter TJ Fergus, who scored on an 8-yard run earlier in the game to give West Forsyth a 6-0 lead, lined up to punt. Fergus faked the punt, scampered to the right, and scooted 9 yards for a first down.

West Forsyth took advantage and scored four plays later after Caleb David had a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:02 left in the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead.

It didn’t take the Grizzlies long to respond. On the ensuing drive, they went on a 12-play, 86-yard drive, and quarterback Connor Creech scored on a 2-yard run, and Aidan Daugherty tacked on the extra-point kick to give the Grizzlies a 21-20 lead with 36.3 seconds left in the first half.

“I just felt like we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities out there, and we left a lot on the field — things we’ve think we’ve got to be better at,” Coach Rob Creason of Oak Grove said. “I mean, had some botched special teams, had some botched, you know, big-time plays, and some bonehead moves. That falls on me, so we’ve got to be better.”

Chaplin scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run with 4:35 left in the third quarter, but Rice’s pass for two points failed, keeping the Titans’ lead at 26-21.

Rice finished 8-of-19 passing for 127 yards, and West Forsyth finished with 431 total yards.

“We’ve got to throw the better,” Wallace said. “That’s been a concentration the last couple of weeks because we’ve got to throw the ball better to loosen up the box because we can’t defend those type boxes all the time.”

Oak Grove quickly responded. It scored on a 10-play drive after Creech fired an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jake Smith with 58.8 seconds left in the third quarter. Creech added a two-point conversion run to give Oak Grove a 29-26 lead.

Oak Grove finished with 362 yards total, including 127 yards rushing on 22 carries for Creech. Creech was also 8-of-14 passing for 114 yards and one interception.

“I felt like we had pretty good momentum throughout most of the game,” Creason said. “Then, a couple of things in the third quarter (happened).”

The Titans answered on the ensuing drive after Chaplin scored his third touchdown on an 8-yard run with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter to take a 32-29 lead. However, Costa Dupuy’s try for extra point failed.

“He felt it. He felt good today,” Wallace said of Chaplin. “He looked good in practice all week, and he just came out here and did the same stuff.”

On the ensuing drive, the Grizzlies went on a 10-play drive that stalled. Creason sent kicker Aidan Daugherty out to attempt a 37-yard field goal. However, Sean Davis of the Titans blocked it to keep the Titans’ lead at 32-29.

“I have a lot of trust in Aidan,” Creason said. “It was no question in that situation we were going to kick it, so we could even it up. They made a really good play on that – overloaded the side – and just took advantage of a mental mishap. If the game plays over again, I’d probably do the same thing again.”

West Forsyth answered on the ensuing drive after Chaplin bolted in for a 60-yard touchdown run with 1:24 left. Rice added a two-point conversion run to make it 40-29.

“I was going for 300, I’m not going to lie,” Chaplin said. “The first game, it’s good, but I wish I could’ve done better. I think I did good for the first game back; I’m going to do better every game I play.”