KERNERSVILLE — Familiar territory lies ahead for the East Forsyth football team, now another round deeper in the postseason.
The No. 2 Eagles defeated No. 3 Jamestown Ragsdale 34-21 on Friday night at Fred E. Lewis Stadium in the third round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs. An offensive push, beginning in the second quarter with 20 points scored, got East Forsyth rolling. Throughout the game, the defense racked up five sacks on Alston Hooker, the Tigers' senior quarterback, as well.
It all led the Eagles (11-2), the defending NCHSAA Class 4-A state champion, back to this point. East Forsyth will appear in its second straight Class 4-A West Region final on Dec. 6 — a road game against No. 1 Greensboro Grimsley at Jamieson Stadium.
Grimsley, which defeated Glenn 32-8 on Friday in their third-round home game, has just one loss this season; it came on Oct. 4 against East Forsyth.
East Forsyth's road to get to a regional appearance again had its challenges, according to Coach Todd Willert. The Eagles faced their fair share of injuries, including junior Jaden Lindsay, a 6-foot-3 and 270-pound offensive lineman, was missing from that win over the Tigers (6-7) because of a knee injury.
"I couldn't be more proud of my coaching staff and my players," Willert said. "You know, right now we've got more than 12 guys out. We're shuffling guys everywhere.
"So, to do what we're doing right now, I'm just excited right now and proud of our kids and coaches that we can fight through this."
East Forsyth trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, but it scored on three straight drives to end the first half.
That began with a 54-yard pass from quarterback Ty Lyles to Jamison Warren for a touchdown as 9:31 remained. Chris Chaplin and Joseph Brown followed it up, scoring the team's two rushing touchdowns. A three-yard run from Brown with 2:24 left pushed the Eagles ahead 20-7. Chaplin ended the night with 63 yards rushing.
Lyles, a junior, passed for 169 yards and three touchdowns. The last came on a 24-yard throw to Jalen Thorns with 1:19 left to seal the win. He made the catch, despite the pass being tipped by Zaymen Taylor, a senior defensive back, in the end zone.
"Definitely the O-line was giving me a lot of time," Lyles said. "And the receivers just found a way to get open. I just had to put (the pass) on their chest."
Despite a second-half surge from Ragsdale, East Forsyth's defense held Devan Boykin to 57 yards rushing. The N.C. State commit scored once off a 39-yard reception with 1:23 left in the third quarter to trail just 28-21 before Thorns' touchdown.
Hooker ended the night with 182 yards in the air. Zyun Reeves, a junior defensive end, helped wrap up Hooker on four of those five sacks.
"We knew coming in the game they had a mobile quarterback and that he could throw the deep ball," Reeves said. "So we prepared in practice, and came in with a game plan knowing we were going to have to do a couple stunts.
"It just started clicking for us."
East Forsyth 34 Ragsdale 21
Records: East Forsyth (11-2), Ragsdale (6-7)
RHS — Tyrell Carmichael 5 pass from Alston Hooker (Adnane Choudani kick)
EF — Jamison Warren 54 pass from Ty Lyles (Andrew Conrad kick)
EF — Chris Chaplin 9 run (Conrad kick)
EF — Joseph Brown 3 run (Kick failed)
RHS — Hooker 5 run (Choudani kick)
EF — Joe Ritchens 21 pass from Lyles (Conversion good)
RHS — Devan Boykin 39 pass from Hooker (Choudani kick)
EF — Jalen Thorns 24 pass from Lyles (Conversion failed)