Woodland kicked off to the War Eagles and forced South Forsyth to punt after only three plays. Woodland started its drive on the 20-yard line. Following an incomplete pass, the Wildcats' Twan Terrell went in motion and received a pitch from R.J. Williams, sprinting 80 yards for the first touchdown of the night. The extra point by Ben Haney put Woodland up 7-0 only one minute and 57 seconds into the game.
The War Eagles made a drive of their own when they got the ball back. On third down, after two short gains, Woodland's Shelby Townsend stopped the War Eagles short of the first down with a crushing hit to force a fourth-and-inches. South Forsyth opted to go for the first down and was rewarded when Isaiah Williams pushed the ball to the 35. War Eagle quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey then connected with Alex Winski for 31 yards to the Woodland 34. Hunter Beeghley pounded the ball down to the 28, only to see the offense start going in the wrong direction. An offside penalty then an intentional grounding penalty on the next play pushed the War Eagles back to Woodland's 47.
Knowing it had to make up a great deal of real estate, South Forsyth threw deep, but the pass was broken up by Woodland's Brandon Thompson to force a War Eagle punt.
The Wildcats began their next drive on their own 18 and quickly got near midfield as Williams hit Qua Stocks in stride for 30 yards to the 49-yard line. An option pitch to Cambrell Turner gained 16 yards and set up a first down on South Forsyth's 35. After a false start and an incomplete pass, Woodland pushed the ball down to the red zone.
Facing third-and-8, Williams threw a fade pass to Xavier Niblett in the end zone for Woodland's second score. Haney's extra point gave the Wildcats a 14-0 lead with 4:12 left in the first.
South Forsyth would not give up easily. Following the kickoff, the War Eagles started feeding Woodland a heavy dose of Beeghley as the senior began grinding out yards, pushing the ball to Woodland's 41. After a short gain, Beeghley struck again down to the 28. After a holding penalty, Jeffrey found his favorite target and connected with Beeghley for a 38-yard scoring pass. The extra point was good and South Forsyth closed the gap to 14-7 with 1:50 in the first.
Woodland began to mount a drive its next time with the ball, pushing the ball from their own 22 to the 44 by the end of the first quarter.
After catching their breaths in between quarters, Williams and Terrell struck again on a 56-yard pass play to start the second quarter. The extra point missed and Woodland extended its lead 20-7 with 11:50 to play in the half.
South Forsyth responded by going to its workhorse Beeghley, with the War Eagles pounding the ball into Woodland's territory. They also were assisted by a spearing penalty. Beeghley grinded to Woodland's 2 after six straight carries, setting up a first and goal for the War Eagles. Jeffrey then called his own number for a War Eagle touchdown. A successful extra point narrowed Woodland's lead to 20-14 with 8:08 left in the half.
Looking at the clock, the Wildcats seemed to know they would have more than enough time to answer the score. And that they did, in less than two minutes, as Williams ran to the 45 and Stocks pushed the ball to the 39. Williams then connected with Terrell for seven yards and quickly found an open Deo Adams for another Woodland score. Wanting to get that missed point back, the Wildcats faked the extra point as Terrell went around the right end for the two-point conversion, making the score 28-14 with 5:24 left in the half.
Woodland's defense then stepped up and forced a three-and-out after the kickoff. A 48-yard punt by South Forsyth set Woodland up at their 24. South Forsyth's defense started to get stingy also by pushing Woodland's offense back and getting a tackle for a huge loss all the way back to the Wildcats' 1-yard line.
With Woodland having to punt from its own end zone, South Forsyth reaped dividends for its defense with great field position at the Woodland 43. Beeghley again powered his way for 12 yards into Woodland's red zone. The Wildcats' defense, however, bowed its neck and held South Forsyth to a 38-yard field goal. Going into halftime, Woodland led 28-17.
"I am very proud of these men and how they have played. There has not been one star but many tonight," first-year coach Vince DiLorenzo said.
South Forsyth tried to catch Woodland off guard with an onside kick to start the second half, but Woodland's Josh Sisk was not fooled as he recovered the ball on the Wildcats' 47. After no gain, Turner picked up four yards and then the fireworks started back up. Williams called his own number and scampered for a 49-yard touchdown behind a bone-jarring block by Adams. Haney's extra point extended the Woodland lead to 35-17 with 10:34 left in the third.
South Forsyth would not pack it up for the evening as it took the ensuing kickoff up to Woodland's 33. After a personal foul penalty moved the ball to Woodland's 48, Beeghley ran for 12 yards and Jeffrey connected with Mike Hovanetz for 17 yards to Woodland's 24.
Following a 5-yard reception, South Forsyth again called on Beeghley as he punched it in for a score. The War Eagles tried for a two-point conversion, only to be denied by Woodland's Jacob Chastain. Woodland was up 35-23 with 9:30 left in the third.
Woodland set itself back nine yards with a fumble, which it recovered, to start its next drive. Facing second-and-19 from its 23, Williams broke free for 30 yards behind a great block from Niblett to South Forsyth's 46. A nice touch pass to Niblett was followed up by Williams finding Stocks for 22 yards to South Forsyth's 18. The Wildcats could get no farther and were forced to punt. Haney pinned the War Eagles back on their 20 as the defense again showed its might by holding South Forsyth to a three-and-out to get the ball back.
Woodland's Josh Young returned the punt to the South Forsyth 28. A holding penalty moved Woodland back before Williams again delivered a pass to an open Stocks for a 24-yard gain to South Forsyth's 12. In what probably sealed the game, Turner grabbed the ball on an errant snap and gained nine yards to set up a Williams-to-Adams touchdown. The third quarter ended with Woodland ahead 42-23.
South Forsyth drove to Woodland's 20 near the start of the fourth quarter. The Wildcat's Trey Thompson had seen enough, though, and ended the drive with an interception at the 10-yard line.
Williams took it from there as he broke free on the next play and outran the defense for 82 yards to the South Forsyth 8-yard line. Woodland increased its lead the next play on Terrell's 8-yard run. The extra point was missed and Woodland's lead grew to 48-23 with 9:57 left in the game.
South Forsyth was not able to move the ball past its own 30 and had to make a decision on what to do on fourth down. Its attempt to get a first down failed and Woodland took over at the War Eagles' 30-yard line. A short gain was succeeded by Williams again unleashing his arm to find Young for a 29-yard touchdown pass. The extra point split the uprights and Woodland was in control 55-23.
Any attempt at scoring before the game was over for South Forsyth was snuffed by a monster sack by Woodland's Clint Lemon as Woodland improved its young season to 2-0.
"Many kids played an important role in this win tonight," DiLorenzo said. "R.J. made good decisions on when and where to throw the ball. Defensively, we got better in the second half. We have things to look at as a staff as to improve on. We have a tough challenge on the road in a hostile environment next week. We will enjoy this win and get prepared for a great team next week."
The Wildcats' matchup with Rome (1-1, 1-1 Region 7-AAAA) is scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff Friday.
Woodland racked up 643 total yards against South Forsyth -- 379 rushing yards and 264 passing yards. Williams went 17 for 23 with five TDs and rushed 13 times for 205 yards with one score. Other rushers included Terrell, four for 96 yards, two TDs, two-point conversion; Stocks, six for 43 yards; Turner, five for 19 yards; and Young, one for 16 yards.
Stocks led Woodland receivers with four catches for 99 yards while other contributions came from Niblett, five for 34 yards, TD; Adams, two for 34 yards, two TDs; Terrell, two for 64 yards, TD; Young, one for 32 yards, TD; and Turner one for one yard.