After his first throw ended up as an interception Friday night, freshman Peyton Derrick’s first career start looked to be going poorly – it wasn’t.
His next two passes were a 10-yard bullet pass to Bryan Edwards and a 28-yard touchdown lofted over the top of the defense to Ikeem Coles, en route to a 47-12 victory.
“I just had to let it go, forget it and drive on,” he said, noting that he found out on Monday afternoon that he would be the starter. “They just said we’re going to let you go and see what you can do.”
It was a touchdown that also turned what looked like a close game early into complete Conway (2-8) domination. After using the wildcat to drive down the field with Cortez Brown, who finished with 6 carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns, the sophomore broke around the edge for a 6-yard touchdown run and the first score of the game.
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Carolina Forest (1-9) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting the table for Derrick’s first touchdown.
“It seemed to be working the past couple weeks, me and Ethan would alternate,” he said, noting that it was simply his turn to show what he could do.
Then Derrick got the chance to use his legs.
On Conway’s next drive, Derrick ran five times for 21 yards, including three consecutive quarterback keepers to close out the first quarter. he finished the drive with his second TD of the day on a two-yard run.
“I’ve got to give credit to my team, they were great and a big reason we won this game,” he said.
But Derrick’s effort was simply the icing on the cake that was an unequivocal beatdown from one 1-8 team to another.
Even when things seemed to be going Carolina Forest’s way in their final game of the season, it quickly changed. After driving the field in the second quarter – converting on fourth down after starting at 1st-and-40 – a fumble by Michael Culbreath turned into a 96-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Brown.
An 11-yard rushing touchdown by Jeffery Sherman, who finished with 128 yards on 22 carries, and a 20-yard touchdown pass to Edwards both contributed to what was a 41-0 score at halftime.
For the Panthers, if there’s any silver lining for what was otherwise a listless performance, it’s that Will Brunson didn’t quite hit 3,000 yards, but his season was nonetheless stellar. The junior quarterback finished 13-for-24 for 184 yards. That leaves him with 2,970 yards and 28 touchdowns.
At the end of the day, both teams head into the offseason with holes to fill. Conway though, and their freshman quarterback, head there with a much better taste in their mouths.
“It feels really good going into the offseason, this is a good Carolina Forest team,” he said. “We knew the end of the year we were going to have to play them, and this is just good bragging rights for the rest of the year.”
CON - Cortez Brown 6 run (Jonathan Nichols kick), 5:24
CON - Peyton Derrick 28 pass to Ikeem Coles (Nichols kick), 5:14
CON - Derrick 2 run (Nichols kick), 11:29
CON - Jeffery Sherman 11 run (Nichols kick), 8:09
CON - Brown 96 fumble recovery (kick failed), 4:15
CON - Derrick 20 pass to Bryan Edwards (Nichols kick), 0:22
CF - Will Brunson 9 pass to Kyle Belack (pass failed), 8:08
CON - Sherman 1 run (kick failed), 7:25
CF - Malik Sherman 35 run (run failed), 2:11
RUSHING—CF: Malik Sherman 6-94, TD; CON: Jeffery Sherman, 22-128, 2 TDs; Derrick, 9-41, TD; Brown, 6-36, 2 TDs
PASSING—CF: Will Brunson 13-24, 1 TD; CON: Peyton Derrick, 11-14, 2 TDs
RECEIVING—CON: Kyle Belack, 4-35; Hunter Yuracheck, 4-30; Zaki Harris, 1-38; CON: Edwards, 6-67, TD; Ikeem Coles, 2-36, TD