SNELLVILLE — Coming into Friday night’s Region 8-AAAAAA matchup at South Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford said his team was looking for some answers on the offensive side of the ball.
Wofford’s team presented him with multiple answers against South. The Black Knights pounded the Comets at home 41-14.
Junior quarterback Eric Forrest was 26 of 35 passing for 326 yards and four touchdowns.
“That’s our job to get these guys better and they responded tonight,” Central head coach Todd Wofford said. “Eric responded well. I’ve been challenging him since he got here… I can’t say enough about him and the way our offense responded.”
Central scored on its first five possessions of the game to put South in a 35-0 hole. In the first half alone, Forrest completed scores of five, nine, 10 and 41 yards. South started with the football, but quarterback Josh Shim was intercepted by Central defensive back Darious Latimore on his first pass attempt.
“You’ve got to give Central credit,” South head coach John Small said. “They came out clicking on offense. They got back on track. Something we’ve been trying to do the last couple weeks.”
South finished the game with just 245 yards of total offense. Shim bounced back from a slow start to finish the game 5 of 13 with 40 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception. His lone TD was a four-yard touchdown pass to Greg Hollingsworth to cap off an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
South had chances to cut further into the lead late in the first half and in the second half as well. The Comets drove down inside the Knights’ 5-yard line and came away without any points twice in the game.
“We came back the second half and had a lot of opportunities to make it close and just couldn’t put in the end zone,” Small said. “I think we got down there three or four times and couldn’t come up with any points. I’m encouraged by the fact that our kids fight. We’re a young football team and that’s what you want them to do, is fight.”
While the Comets didn’t do themselves any favors on offense, the Knights also made sure they never got into a rhythm. Central sacked Shim and fellow quarterback Malik Brown four times in the game.
“Our defense for the fourth straight week have played great,” Wofford said. “Our defense has played great. Everybody is worried about what we’re doing on offense but they haven’t recognized the defense for playing four great games.”
With the exception of Shim’s fourth quarter touchdown pass the only other points Central gave up were on a 98-yard kickoff return by Coray Keel in the second quarter.
Offensively Central’s attack was balanced as Forrest threw for over 300 yards and sophomore Nigel Adams racked up 151 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. The 6-foot, 210-pound back had 90 yards on 20 carries in the first half.
Forrest’s favorite targets on the night were Zedekiah Brown and Chris Shelling. Brown had eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, while Shelling had eight catches for 105 yards.
Major Bellamy also had big night at receiver for Central with six receptions for 70 yards and touchdown. Nate Hartford also had three grabs for 40 yards and a touchdown.
“It starts off with short passes and then you go deep,” Forrest said. “It’s all about getting the offense moving and staying in a fast pace. That’s what gets the defense tired and gets us going.”
CENTRAL GWINNETT 41, SOUTH GWINNETT 14
Central 21 14 0 7 41
South 0 7 0 7 14
Central: Nigel Adams 9 run (Ricky Ortix kick), 9:40
Central: Nate Hartford 9 pass from Eric Forrest (Ortiz kick), 5:37
Central: Adonis Thomas 5 pass from Forrest (Ortiz kick), 0:34
Central: Zedekiah Brown 41 pass from Forrest (Ortiz kick failed), 10:53
Central: Major Bellamy 10 pass from Forrest (Forrest 2-point conversion pass) 8:00
South: Coray Keel 98 kickoff return (Roberto Lindsay kick), 7:44
Central: Mitch Morris 1 run (Ortiz kick failed), 10:13
South: Greg Hollingsworth 4 pass from Josh Shim (Lindsay kick), 7:40