Carolina Forest and Fort Dorchester took turns trading big-play punches early, but in the end it was the visiting Patriots who came up with the knock-out blows in a 41-21 win over the Panthers on Saturday night.
“Fort Dorchester is a very athletic, good football team,” Carolina Forest coach Drew Hummel said. “Big 16 team and probably one of the top teams that we’ll play all year.”
The Patriots got on the board on their first possession, a five-play, 74-yard march keyed by a 42-yard completion from Baptiste Staggers to T.J. Smith and capped when Staggers called his own number on an option keeper from 13 yards out.
Carolina Forest (0-2) was forced to punt on its next possession, but a solid punt from Ryan Yuracheck put the Patriots in a hole and a defensive stand and short punt gave the Panthers the ball at the Fort Dorchester 36, and seven plays later Harold Atkinson found the end zone from the 7 to tie the game.
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But the Patriots swung right back, getting a 42-yard kickoff return by Smith that helped set up another Staggers score, this time from 36 yards.
Smith added a rushing touchdown on Fort Dorchester’s next possession, but Carolina Forest cut the lead to a TD with a nine-play, 68-yard drive ending with Will Brunson’s 10-yard scoring pass to Atkinson early in the second quarter.
The Patriots responded with a shot in the gut, marching down the field in the less than two minutes and scoring when Rashad Palmer took a screen pass 24 yards to the end zone with 26.6 left before the break to extend the lead to
A quick score on a 41-yard scoring pass from Staggers to Smith early in the third quarter provided the knock-out and left the Panthers lamenting how best to battle the big play.
“We hung around there with them, but when we needed to make a play, to get a stop, we just couldn’t get it done,” Hummel said. “We’ve just got to get the big play stopped. That’s the thing.”
Staggers was 7-for-10 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns and had 59 yards rushing. Brunson, a sophomore, was 10-for-14 for 101 yards with an interception.
Atkinson paced the Panthers with 66 yards rushing, while Daitwan Commodore had 142 yards for the Patriots.
Both sides added late touchdowns, Carolina Forest’s coming on an 82-yard fumble return by Marvin Taylor, and Fort Dorchester’s from Commodore on 92-yard rush.
FD-Baptiste Staggers 13 run (Luke Philyaw kick), 7:16
CF-Harold Atkinson 7 run (Michael Brooks kick), 11:25
FD-Staggers 36 run (Philyaw kick), 10:16
FD-T.J. Smith 5 run (Philyaw kick), 6:44
CF-Will Brunson 10 pass to Atkinson (Brooks kick), 2:22
FD-Staggers 24 pass to Rashad Palmer (Philyaw kick), 26.6
FD-Staggers 41 pass to Smith (Philyaw kick), 9:13
CF-Marvin Taylor 82 fumble return (Brooks kick)
FD-Daitwan Commodore 92 run (kick blocked)