The BCHS Wildcat varsity football team will be returning to the post season playoffs for the first time in Coach Ryan Sulkowski’s tenure at the helm after their 48-28 win over Forrest on October 25. The Cats rode a touchdown-filled performance from running back Falon Lee, who amassed 142 yards rushing and five touchdowns that night to tie the school record.
Whether the Cats will enter the playoffs as district champions or runners-up will be determined on Friday when they travel to Jacksonville to meet last year’s district champion Bishop Kenny. The Crusaders trounced Terry Parker 41-0 behind four Ahmad Fullwood touchdowns.
There was a lot on the line for the coach and the team as the Cats got off the bus at Forrest High on Thursday. BCHS and its fans relished a trip to the state playoffs, but to do it they would have to defeat a resurgent Forrest Rebel squad that was also looking at securing a playoff slot.
As the game opened it appeared the Rebels left their intensity in the locker room. For the first ten minutes it looked as if the game was going to be a run away for Baker County as the Cats score three times in quick succession.
Lee showed his intent to have a big game early on, running for a 30-yard touchdown in the game’s opening series to put BCHS up 6-0 when the point-after failed.The second score came quickly as quarterback Corey Lawler marched the team down the field in the second possession and hit Drew Rogers for a 14-yard scoring pass. Lawler ran in the conversion attempt and just like that BCHS held a 14-0 lead.
The defense, playing extremely well and containing Forrest’s star runner Jordan Mixson in the early going, gave the ball back to Lawler after a fourth down stand and he knew what to do with it. Lawler ran into Forrest territory at the 47 and three Lee runs later the Cats were up 21-0 after DeAngelo Thomas hit the extra point.
But it is hard to keep a good runner down as Mixson proved on the kickoff. He found a seam in the coverage, broke into the open and raced 87 yards for the first Rebel score. Mixson had a great night for Forrest with 200 yards rushing on 18 carries.
BCHS answered right back at the start of the second period as Lee scored for the third time on a 1-yard run. The PAT was good for a 28-7 lead.
Then the game got really interesting.
The Wildcats had the Rebels stopped, but a personal foul on an uncatchable ball to Tyrell Mitchell gave Forrest a first down. Two plays later, quarterback Jeff Vining found Mixson on a 30-yard pass play for the touchdown and the score was 28-14.
As the half wound down the Wildcat nerves really started to jangle. BCHS fumbled the ball deep in their own end and Mixson made them pay with a 10-yard touchdown run to narrow the gap to 28-21.
But the Wildcat offensive show was unstoppable and they put some breathing room between themselves and the Rebels a couple of minutes before halftime.
Lee took the Rebel kickoff all the way back to the 46-yard line. The Rebels crowded the line of scrimmage, Lawler and the coaching staff read the coverage change and Lawler went over the top to Rogers who pulled in the ball and raced down field for a 53-yard touchdown. The PAT was blocked and the Cats went into intermission up 34-21.
When Forrest returned from halftime, the home team moved the ball into Wildcat territory, but Jared Crews picked off a Vining pass and raced 63 yards to the Forrest 5-yard line. From there Lee ran it in for his fourth score of the night and a 40-21 lead.
The Wildcats got the ball back right away. Rashadd Hadley forced a fumble and Natavian Griffin recovered on the Forrest 20-yard line. Lawler hit a couple of quick pass plays to the Forrest five and Lee ran it in to tie the school record for touchdowns in a game at five.
Forrest narrowed the gap with a 58-yard run but it was too little too late.
Lee’s heroics overshadowed a fine night from Mike Boone, who rushed for 111 yards on 8 carries and a strong passing night for Lawler, who was 8 of 10 for 109 yards. He also ran for 62 yards on 8 carries. The Cats had 331 yards rushing on 42 attempts.
Defensively the Cats recorded six sacks on Vining and forced five Forrest fumbles.