Raiders upset Titans in Central Piedmont 4-A rivalry

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

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By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

Friday night’s game at Jerry Peoples Stadium was a battle of a struggling team versus a team that was rolling.

The struggling team beat the rolling team as Reagan upset West Forsyth 35-26 in a Central Piedmont 4-A rivalry showdown. 

“We’ve just got to be better,” Coach Kevin Wallace of West Forsyth said. “Too many mistakes and too many turnovers. We’ve got to be better on special teams. We’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to execute.”

The Titans (5-2, 3-1), who were led by running back Caman Chaplin’s 365 yards rushing on 36 carries and four touchdowns, still lost after they finished with four turnovers and they also had 16 penalties for 158 yards.

“We let all the adversity that we had going into this week and all the extra, all the distractions overtake us all week. I mean, it’s been like this for three weeks,” Wallace said. “We’ve gotten a little bit better in each week of practice and we’ve got to practice better if we want to play better on Friday. And we just haven’t.”

In contrast, Reagan (2-5, 1-3) was struggling and had just lost 54-41 last week against Davie County. 

“It’s a great win,” Coach Josh McGee of Reagan said. “You know, I’ll tell you it’s been a wild year for us. But I’ve said it for so long, and it kind of gets old and you don’t want to say it anymore, but we were the best 1-5 team coming in here that I’ve seen.”

Quarterback Jacob Smith of the Raiders was 13-for-22 passing with no interceptions and three touchdowns Friday night against the Titans. 

“We kept finding ways to lose and not finding ways to win,” McGee said. “We roll over here tonight with 32 football players. We’ve got nine guys out with injuries. We lose your best player and your running back (Jaylen Moore) at halftime with a foot injury. So, we roll with your No. 2 (Nazeir Blackman), really our No. 3 because our No. 2 (Aaron Gutierrez) was hurt and didn’t play tonight. It’s just these guys have learned how to deal with adversity. It’s really cool to see them come put it all together tonight.”

As for West Forsyth, although it had defeated Mount Tabor, Parkland and Glenn the previous three weeks in conference play it had struggled with slow starts. That happened again Friday against Reagan. Moore scored on an 8-yard touchdown run with 6:28 left in the first quarter to help take a 7-0 lead after quarterback Bert Rice of West Forsyth threw an interception.

“Another slow start,” Wallace said. “So, we’ll come back. I believe in what we do planning-wise of practice. We started going over a good period real quick. I firmly believe that gets us to play fast, and we just haven’t executed the last three weeks. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. We’’ll come back next week and go after it.”

The Titans answered on their next possession after Chaplin scored on an 8-yard with 2:35 left, and Rice tacked on a two-point run to take an 8-7 lead. 

The lead lasted all of four plays because Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Summers with 44 seconds left in the first quarter to help take a 14-8 lead. 

Chaplin, as he’s done all season, gave the Titans another spark after scoring on a 43-yard run with 10:40 left in the second quarter, but Rice’s throw for two points failed to keep the score tied at 14-14. 

Chaplin tacked on another touchdown after scoring on a 1-yard run with 4:15 left in the second quarter to give the Titans a 20-14 lead, but the extra-point kick was blocked. 

“I’m not really sure (how to stop him),” McGee said of Chaplin. “You can load the box. You can do all kinds of stuff, but he’s just an unbelievable runner. You can find the smallest creases and he’s gone. He’s just a great talent and I’m certainly glad he’s senior.”

West Forsyth had a chance to extend the lead just before halftime, but Rice threw an interception to Connor Berry in the end zone with no time left. Reagan took the opening kick of the second half and stalled. However, it punted and it was muffed by West Forsyth. 

Reagan recovered at the West Forsyth 33 with 8:49 left in the third quarter and scored five plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run by Nazeir Blackman with 6:18 left to help take a 21-20 lead. 

“We lost the middle 8 — you’re talking about the last 4 minutes of the second quarter and the first 4 of the third,” Wallace said. “And we lost it. And I really think that cost us the game.”

Chaplin answered again with a 54-yard touchdown run with 6:14 left in the third quarter, but Rice’s pass for two points failed to keep the Titans’ lead at 26-21.

“He’s a dude. We’ve to get him the ball,” Wallace said of Chaplin. “We’ve got to pick it up on the outside and with the quarterback play and stuff like that. But we’ll come back. We’ll coach them better and we’ll be better next week (at Davie County) and we’ll go from there.”

The Raiders answered on the ensuing possession after William Tapp caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smith to help take a 28-26 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter. 

“It’s proof that through times tough times never last and tough people do,” McGee said. “You know, we say that a lot. And this is proof tonight if you stay the course, you know, when you’re 1-5 and you’re not used to being 1-5 it’s easy to kind of fold up like a cheap tent sometimes. These guys haven’t done that, man, and it’s just really cool to see them, again, rewarded.”

Rice was intercepted with 29 seconds left in the third quarter and Reagan capitalized after Summers caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter to help extend the lead to 35-26. 

West Forsyth turned it over on downs with 5:12 left after having it on the Reagan 6-yard line.

“We don’t execute,” Wallace said. “We don’t execute on the last play of the game. We didn’t execute. We left a lot of points on the field.”

Reagan: 14 – 0 – 14 – 7 — 35 

West Forsyth: 8 – 12 – 6 – 0 — 6 

R – Jaylen Moore 8 run (Ryder Lawson kick)

WF – Caman Chaplin 8 run (Bert Rice run)

R – Jerry Summers 12 pass from Jacob Smith (Lawson kick)

WF – Chaplin 43 run (run failed)

WF – Chaplin 1 (kick blocked)

R – Nazeir Blackman 3 run (Lawson kick)

WF – Chaplin 54 run (pass failed)

R – William Tapp 10 pass from Smith (Lawson kick)

R – Summers 6 pass from Smith (Lawson kick)

Records – Reagan 2-5 (2-2 Central Piedmont 4-A), West Forsyth 5-2 (3-1)