Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris said after his Panthers’ game against Loris that this was a “different” one.
Indeed it was.
Rain produced wet and muddy conditions Friday night, causing both teams to play a sloppy game that saw nine combined turnovers and just 203 total yards of offense with Carolina Forest coming away with a 21-0 triumph over the Lions.
“I thought our defense came out and played excellent,” said Morris, whose team held the Lions to 104 yards of offense. “There were tough conditions tonight, but we did some good things.”
Carolina Forest has missed star halfback Dyverse Simmons, who is out for the season with a leg injury, but Jaylen Johnson is starting to step up in Simmons’ absence.
Johnson had a game-high 58 yards on 18 carries and scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter to put the Panthers ahead 14-0.
“I’m just working hard, trying to help this team,” Johnson said. “Feels good to get the win.”
It was ultimately two fumble recoveries for touchdowns by Carolina Forest that hurt the Lions, who turned the ball over six times.
The field conditions didn’t help, either.
“Look around. The balls are wet; it’s kind of hard to do it when the field is as bad as it was,” Loris coach Jamie Snider said. “We just had too many turnovers, but I’ll tell you what – our defense played really great. Two of their touchdowns, one was from an offensive fumble and another was one that went over the punter’s head. You can’t do that against a good team. Carolina Forest is good by themselves, but when you give them points like we did tonight it proves we have to get better in that area.”
While the defense did enough to keep Loris in this one, the offense struggled.
Senior Clay Faircloth was held to under 50 yards passing, while Hakeem Jackson was the leading rusher with just 34 yards on 14 carries for the Lions, who had six first downs.
“We put the ball on the ground too much and had opportunities, we just can’t make mistakes like we did tonight,” Snider said. “But again, I was real proud with how our defense played. I thought they played really, really well and we’re encouraged by that – we just have to hold on to the football.”
The Lions will look to bounce back as they play host to Lake City next Friday.
“We need to keep doing what we’re doing on defense. Even though we lost 21-0, I thought this was one of our best defensive games all year,” Snider said. “I was real proud of how our defense played and we need to hold on to the ball on offense and special teams.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers will travel to take on Socastee in their fifth road contest in six games as Carolina Forest has its sights set on a playoff spot in its first season in the new Class 5A.
“If you’re going to be a playoff team in this day and age, you better learn to play on the road and do good things, so we were able to take care of that,” Morris said. “But it’s good to get the first home win of the season, and we’ll be ready to go play Socastee next week.”
CF -- Richmond Collier 4 fumble return (Freddie Kane kick), 8:49
CF – Jaylen Johnson 10 run (Kane kick), 11:52
CF – Jakarius Davis 35 fumble return (Kane kick), 3:30
Rushing: Loris, Hakeem Jackson 14-34; Kendall Goodson 5-13; Clay Faircloth 5-(-2); Tyreek Williams 1-6; Tevin Livingston 6-15. Carolina Forest, Jaylen Johnson 18-58, TD; Matt Beale 18-0; Jordan Ferrell 6-21; Nasier Nesmith 2-15.
Passing: Loris, Clay Faircloth 6-11-0, 49 yards. Carolina Forest, Matt Beale 1-3-1, 5 yards.
Receiving: Loris, Kendall Goodson 3-33; Travis Walters 2-13; Levon Stevenson 1-3. Carolina Forest, Richmond Collier 1-5.
Records: Loris 2-3, Carolina Forest 4-1.