The Cass football team had every chance in the world to win its game Friday night at Forsyth Central.
But the Colonels kept letting big opportunities slip away.
Eventually, Cass ran out of time and Forsyth Central claimed a 24-12 victory that the Colonels just couldn’t take from them.
“We played like crap,” Cass head coach Bobby Hughes said. “… We had way too many missed opportunities, way too many missed opportunities. We had guys running free, and we missed them. We put ourselves behind the sticks, penalty-wise, early to put us in a bad spot.”
The Colonels (1-1) were put in a hole before even getting to touch the ball with the Bulldogs (2-0) methodically marching down the field on the game’s opening drive.
However, penalties forced Forsyth Central to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Brody Palmer and a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took a 10-0 lead just a couple of plays later after a muffed punt by the Colonels, who host intracounty rival Woodland to open Region 7-AAAAA play next week. Forsyth Central quarterback Ryan Vanuum converted the gift into a 9-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Things went from bad to worse on the ensuing possession when Cass quarterback Rett Moore had his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Anthony Persichetti.
Vanuum capped another two-play scoring drive with a 4-yard run and a healthy 17-0 advantage. Those consecutive series for the Bulldogs covered 21 total yards.
On the other side, Cass managed 20 total yards of offense in the first half. All the yardage came on the ground, as Moore and backup QB Logan Nelson combined to go 0-for-7 with two picks in the half.
Even with all that, the Colonels still had a multitude of chances to come back over the final two quarters.
“It was nothing they were doing,” Hughes said referring to Forysth Central. “It was all about what we were doing. They knew that. … That’s just a tough one to swallow.”
Cass got off to the perfect start in the second half with Moore floating a perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone for Jacquez Fountain to haul in for a touchdown. The score came on a crucial fourth-and-3 play nearly five minutes into the third quarter.
A bobbled snap on the extra point kept Forsyth Central ahead 17-6, but Cass had the momentum for the first time all night.
The Colonels defense stepped up a few times to keep the team in the game. Cass, then, had a clear-cut chance for a big play, possibly a touchdown, but a wide-open receiver was underthrown on third down.
“We kept fighting,” Hughes said. “That’s the difference between this team and years in the past is that they continued to fight. I don’t know that we could have played any worse in the first half, and it was only 17-0.
“We come right out, drive down the field and score. Then we get a stop, and we miss a guy running free. … We’re not good enough, we’re not athletic enough to miss home runs. When they’re there, we’ve got to take them.”
The Bulldogs put the game to bed with Devran Orsan’s 4-yard plunge with 4 minutes, 26 seconds remaining. It was the first drive where the massive disadvantage in time of possession finally hurt the Colonels defense.
“That last touchdown was just [a result of] the fact that they were gassed,” Hughes said of his defense, which he said played stupendous. “They were gassed. I thought our defense played really hard.”
Moore capped a consolation drive, of sorts, with an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:48 to go. Cass’ most explosive play of the game — a 43-yard pass to Malik Grimes — set up the score, but it was too little too late.
“I thought we played well in spurts,” Hughes said. “… The big ones we missed really hurt us. They really hurt us.”