Carolina Forest lost approximately 60 percent of its offense from last year. But the biggest chunk of its production it did bring back and its tested scheme was enough to lay a solid foundation for the start of 2017.
The Panthers and senior quarterback Matt Beale won their opener 24-7 over Providence Day (N.C.) on Friday, getting a mix of Beale’s duel-threat abilities and the normal run-first scheme coach Mark Morris has employed since his debut three years ago.
Beale and three tailbacks rushed for just shy of 300 yards against a team with two defensive linemen with major college scholarship offers. Likewise, the Panthers defense made a pretty good Chargers offense look pedestrian.
But what impressed Morris the most was that the performance – one few expected to have this result – came with so many relatively inexperienced players. At times Friday, there were three Carolina Forest players who had any time of real game film from last season.
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The win got the Panthers off to the right start, but it also snapped a four-game skid from an injury-plagued 2016. There were the three regular-season defeats and then the first-round playoff loss to Summerville. Three of those losses (and four of the team’s five overall losses) came by a touchdown or less.
Against Providence Day, however, Morris watched his scheme work nearly to perfection.
Already leading 10-0, Carolina Forest forced Providence Day to punt with a little more than six minutes to play in the third quarter. The Panthers took over on their own 15-yard line and proceeded to drive 85 yards for a touchdown while erasing another 5 minutes and 50 seconds from the clock.
Bryce Crawford: Junior linebacker had a big sack early and spent several more snaps in the Chargers’ backfield.
Matt Beale: Senior signal caller ran for 110 yards and threw for another 42.
Quasim Porter: Tailback earned bulk of the carries, at least for one night, en route to 98 yards.
By the numbers
Carolina Forest’s time of possession, out of a possible 48 minutes of game time.
The Panthers rushed for a total of 297 yards on 46 carries, an average of more than 6 yards per rush
Carolina Forest’s total first downs, all but two of which came on the ground
They said it
“I got a big belief in what I think is right for our program. This program isn’t necessarily this offense or this defense. It’s the weight room and offseason conditioning. Everybody who knows our program knows we’ve been pretty good at the J.V. level. Tonight was about seeing how good some young kids were.” - Panthers coach Marc Morris
“I think the first play. The first play sets the tone. … I think we came and took it too them and kept it up the rest of the night.” - Carolina Forest quarterback Matt Beale, after teammate David Legette ripped off an 18-yarder on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage.
“You can tell. You get tackled the first play of the drive, it feels a lot different than getting tackled the 12th play of the drive.” - Beale, talking about the Panthers’ long drives throughout the night.
Providence Day: at Andrew Jackson
Carolina Forest: vs. St. James
CF - Freddie Kane 27 FG
CF - David Legette 10 run (Kane kick)
CF - Matt Beale 1 run (Kane kick)
PD - Nickel Fields 7 run (Thomas Gelorme kick)
CF - Shawn Mallo 47 return (Kane kick)
Rushing: Providence Day: Nickel Fields 16-135. Carolina Forest: Player Matt Beale 15-110; David Legette 9-55; Quasim Porter 13-98; Marquavious Collier 9-34.
Passing: Providence Day: Cody Cater 7-23-2, 70 yards. Carolina Forest: Matt Beale 4-10-0, 42 yards.
Receiving: Providence Day: Porter Rooks 5-47. Carolina Forest: Corey Pearre 1-22; Derek Alston 2-14.