The Eagles overcome a slow start to beat Central Piedmont 4-A Conference rival Mount Tabor 42-0 on Saturday afternoon in Kernersville to advance to the third round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A West football playoffs.
Why the Eagles won
East Forsyth’s defense set the tone by getting stops in Eagles territory on all seven Mount Tabor possessions in the first half. Once East’s offense came alive with some big plays, it was on to the third round of the Class 4-A West playoffs for the unbeaten Eagles.
Senior end Nick Martin had 4½ of East’s nine sacks as coach Todd Willert’s Eagles increased their total to 16 in two postseason games.
“In the first quarter it was all our defense,” Willert said. “We had bad field position the whole time. (Que’sean Brown) broke the long run, but our defense was unbelievable. Last week we had seven sacks. You can win a lot of games doing that on the D-line.”
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Brown, East’s dynamic receiver, runner and return man, had the 80-yard touchdown run and added four catches for 135 yards and a score. Fellow senior Jaylen Raynor completed 11 of 18 passes for 222 yards and two TDs and ran for 59 yards and another score.
“We’re a big-play team, we really are,” Willert said. “We just have so many weapons. Today they took Jayvontay (Conner) away a little bit and tried to take Jaylen (running) away a little bit. That leaves Q one-on-one, and Coach (Chris) Vaughan and Coach (Ron) Horton did a great job of calling the game.”
Why the Spartans lost
Much like in the teams’ regular-season meeting, which East Forsyth won 31-13, Mount Tabor didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities in the first half. Five of the Spartans’ first six possessions started in Eagles territory and yielded no points.
“We couldn’t put any game pressure on them,” coach Tiesuan Brown said. “We had good field position in the first quarter, missed some opportunities again, but I’m still proud of my football team.”
A ground-oriented Tabor attack was held to 46 yards on 38 rushes and only connected on five of 15 passes for 56 yards. Shamarius Peterkin started at quarterback for the Spartans, gave way to fellow sophomore Jadon Blair in the third quarter, then finished.
Defensively, Tabor recovered a fumble and forced a punt in the first quarter, but had little success the rest of the game as East Forsyth finished with 451 yards of total offense. One bright spot was punter Quinn Milner, who flipped the field on multiple occasions and averaged 38.8 yards on five kicks.
The big play
At a time when East Forsyth was struggling to move the ball against a typically stout Tabor defense, Brown took a direct snap with Raynor in motion from right to left across the formation, faked to his quarterback and kept the ball on a zone read. Eighty yards later the Duke commit was in the end zone, and the Eagles scored on two of their last three possessions of the half.
Mount Tabor — QB Shamarius Peterkin 5-of-13 passing, 56 yards; RB Zion Thompson 6 carries, 49 yards; RB Giovanni Caesar 11 carries, 33 yards; Kevin Frazier fumble recovery.
East Forsyth — QB Jaylen Raynor 11-of-18 passing, 222 yards, 2 TDs, 11 rushes, 59 yards, TD; RB Trenton Dozier 9 carries, 55 yards, TD; WR/KR Que’sean Brown 4 catches, 135 yards, TD, 80-yard TD run; DE Nick Martin 4½ sacks.
Three things we learned
1. This is déjà vu for East. The Eagles’ first two opponents in the playoffs were Central Piedmont Conference rivals they’d already beaten in the regular season, West Forsyth and Tabor. Now they face a Hough program that ended their playoff run in the fourth round last year, 26-14, in Cornelius. This year, the Huskies have to come to Kernersville. “It’s crazy that we’re playing Hough,” Willert said, “but hopefully with them coming up here to ‘The Nest’ it will different. I think we’re a little bit different team and I’m sure they are, too.”
2. Penalties, penalties, penalties. The yellow flags have become as much a part of East’s season as the wins. On Saturday it was 15 penalties for 116 yards. “We’ve got to work on it,” Willert said. “Today was more holding penalties, so we did stop the late hits.”
3. This Mount Tabor team will be back. This isn’t last season, where most of the starters had graduated from the spring 2021 NCHSAA Class 3-AA championship team. “We’re really young,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot coming back and we’ll build upon the success we had this season. I told the underclassmen they’ve got two weeks off, then we’re going to get back in the weight room.”
What they said
“I’m proud of my coaching staff, their families, (athletics director) Allen Plaster and the administration. Last night the field was underwater (from heavy rain), and to get it in this shape ... And the sacrifice of some of my kids who were supposed to go on official visits and didn’t go today, that’s what made me most proud.” – Todd Willert, East Forsyth coach
“We went from 4-5 to making it to the second round (of the playoffs) and finished the season 9-3. My senior class has nothing to hang their heads about. They all have rings and had good careers. We just ran into a better football team tonight.” – Tiesuan Brown, Mount Tabor coach
Mount Tabor: 9-3.
East Forsyth: 12-0.
Up next for East Forsyth
No. 5 seed Cornelius Hough (10-2), Nov. 18, at Fred E. Lewis Stadium.