Bison keep pace, minus points
Thirty-six. When that’s how many points your team is scoring, that’s a good thing.
When it’s how many seconds your offense is holding onto the ball before punting, not so much.
High Point Central’s breakneck offense broke down Friday night, leading to a 14-13 defeat to West Forsyth. After averaging 36 points per game in a 4-0 start, the Bison committed four turnovers and punted seven times against the Titans.
“It was just uncharacteristic for us. We kind of hurt ourselves,” Central coach Wayne Jones said. “Fumbling the football, those kinds of things – they’ve been brewing the last few weeks. We’ve been making mistakes.”
Against West’s talented defense, however, the mistakes were magnified. Quarterback Jamiel Mack, tasked with running an offense that snaps the ball almost before the referee lets go of it, faced constant pressure and seemed to be in a rhythm just once all night.
In the first half, Central had three straight series without a first down. Two lasted nearly a minute and a half. A third was exactly 36 seconds – two incompletions and a 2-yard rushing loss on a QB keeper.
“Us going three-and-out, three-and-out, we were putting our defense on the field a long time,” Jones said.
West (4-1) managed little against Central’s defense until the end of the first and second half. The Titans took over at the Bison 42 with 2:12 remaining in the second quarter and got to first-and-10 from the 11 with 27 seconds to play. Quarterback Darion Slade and running back Kealand Dirks had back-to-back runs that set up the fourth down from the 2 with five seconds to play.
After a West timeout, Slade slipped into the end zone on a draw play for a 7-0 lead.
That seemed to inspire Central, which received the kickoff to open the second half and promptly traversed 77 yards in eight plays. That drive ended with Mack’s short pass to Charles Edmond, who raced 35 yards for a score.
Right when the Bison appeared ready to shake off the rust, the offense reverted to its earlier struggles: interception, punt, fumble. Then, out of nowhere, came a 56-yard strike from Mack to Charles Edmond. Central was back on top — but by six points rather than seven. The PAT appeared to be blocked.
West began its final drive from its own 43 with 4:12 remaining. On third-and-eight, Slade eluded a sack and threw a desperation ball that Jordan Terry somehow caught when falling. That 36-yard gain and a run by Dirks set up first-and-goal from the 5.
On three straight runs, the Bison (4-1) allowed a single yard. On the fourth, Slade started on an option play down the right side, considered going in, but eventually pitched to Jenkins, who was untouched going through the goal line. The score was tied with 1:22 remaining, and Ben Esposito’s PAT made it 14-13.
“We had them stopped three downs,” Jones said.” On fourth down, we’ve got to make that play.”
On this night, key plays came infrequently for the Bison. On defense as well as offense. The Bison have until Friday’s game at Page (2-3) to break down the breakdown and get the fast-paced offense fix.