DULUTH - The offensive troubles continued for Duluth on Friday as the Wildcats were beaten 27-0 on homecoming at Cecil Morris Field by a South Forsyth team that entered the game without a victory. The outcome left coach Gary McDonald wondering what to do next.
"We've tried everything we can, but we just can't seem to get it in the end zone," said McDonald, whose team has scored only 66 points this season.
"We've changed offenses, we've changed running backs, we've changed quarterbacks, we've changed blocking schemes, but we just can't get the offense started."
Duluth (1-6, 0-5) had nine offensive possessions on Friday. Five times they went three-and-out, once they got a first down thanks to a roughing the kicker penalty, and they ran out the clock to end the game. The Wildcats had only five first downs (two were on penalties) and just 50 yards on offense. Henry Enyenihi was the top rusher with 15 yards and quarterback Alex Fragoso completed 5 of 16 passes for 29 yards, was intercepted twice and sacked three times.
No wonder McDonald was shaking his head after the loss. Only once were the Wildcats able to cross into South Forsyth territory and that effort ended on a lateral that ended up in South's hands.
The loss ruined another gritty performance by the Duluth defense, which battled hard against South's revamped option offense. The War Eagles (1-6, 1-4) switched from a spread offense during its off week and controlled the ball effectively against Duluth. South Forsyth, led by Austin Jones with 82 rushing yards, ran for 211 yards, threw for 77 and picked up 18 first downs. South's only trouble spot was penalties, as it was flagged nine times for 75 yards.
"The defense played hard, but they were out there too long," McDonald said.
South Forsyth set the pace early by driving 78 yards in 11 plays as quarterback Nick Belyew (9-for-12, 77 yards passing, 54 yards rushing) moved the team down the field with a series of runs. Hunter Beeghley, who wound up with 56 yards on 17 carries, scored on a 4-yard run.
South had another 11-play drive on its next possession, but appeared to be stymied at the 12. After lining up for a field goal, holder Joe Outlaw executed the fake by throwing to Hunter Lively for a touchdown, a play that seemed to take much of the steam out of the Wildcats. South Forsyth tacked on a field goal late in the half, when Paul Buurman connected from 41 yards out.
The War Eagles iced it with another long drive (13 plays, 58 yards) in the third quarter, scoring again from a fake field goal formation. The direct snap went to Salem Collins, who ran around the left end for a 4-yard touchdown. The senior had a memorable night with the touchdown and two interceptions.
South Forsyth had one other lengthy drive, a 12-play clock-eater, but Duluth's defense stopped that one at its 42 yard line.
"I don't know what we're going to do, but we'd better do it quick," McDonald said. "We've got our rival (Norcross) next week, so we've got to get better and get ready to play a good football team."