Forsyth football

Forsyth's Johnny Mayhew tries to break from a Lighthouse Christian defender Friday.

FORSYTH — It wasn’t just because it was Homecoming night Friday that it was incredibly bad timing for Forsyth’s Micaiah Rocha and Johnny Mayhew to be feeling subpar.

The fact Lighthouse Christian and its frenetic offense was in town also made it a night all the Panthers wanted to be feeling their best.

Rocha and Mayhew both persevered and played, but barely could drag themselves off the field after Forsyth failed to keep up with the Chargers and fell 50-28 in a 3-hour, 15-minute marathon.

Rocha had no desire to attend the Homecoming dance afterward.

“I had to come off the field a couple of times because I thought I was going to fall to my knees,” said Rocha, who like Mayhew and the great majority of Panthers played on both sides of the ball. “I’m weak. I can’t wait to get home and go to sleep. I’m definitely not going to the dance. I’m going to bed.”

Rocha earned his sleep. He had 18 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with three tackles for a loss.

Forsyth (3-3) led 7-0 but fell behind 44-7 despite putting up video game-offensive numbers. In addition to Rocha’s totals, quarterback Dawson Deroo completed 42-of-64 passes for 449 yards and wideout Anthony Stanford had a dozen catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

The Panthers had 86 offensive plays.

Lighthouse Christian (5-1) did things even better. Quarterback J. Braeden Mathews was good on 32-of-50 passes for 279 yards and five touchdowns. Wideouts Gavin Bess and Caleb Miranda combined for 28 catches for 234 yards. 

Both teams regularly sent five receivers out on routes. The Chargers didn’t even bother placing a running back in their backfield.

The teams combined for a whopping 157 plays, thanks to both sides operating without a huddle and repeated stoppages of the clock due to the first-down maker being moved, incompletions and, of course, 12 touchdowns. 

“It was even faster than I expected,” Stanford said. “But I wasn’t surprised by it because coach got us prepared for it during the week.”

“It was an up and down game and we definitely ran out of gas at times,” Panthers coach Tommie Anderson said. “We had to move people around at times in spots they weren’t used to and it showed. But the kids played hard the entire night.

“I may go in to the dance and peak to see if them cramp up if they try to dance.”

As well as Lighthouse Christian threw the ball, Matthews particularly humbled the Panthers with his legs. He had two touchdown runs.

When we would stop their passing, their quarterback would run against us and that would put us out of sync,” Rocha said.

Anderson would have loved to see how his defense would have handled Mathews with Mayhew, a middle linebacker, at full strength.

“We knew by having to go out and cover their receivers, we would be soft in the middle,” Anderson said. “The plan all along was to leave Johnny as the spy. He’s our best tackler. Normally, he doesn’t miss tackles. But you could tell he was gassed tonight. It was hard for him to keep up with the pace of play.

“Johnny barely practiced all week. He has had flu-like symptoms and was feeling weak going into the game. The fact it was an up-and-down game didn’t help him at all.”

The contest featured bubble routes galore.

“We’re notorious for running that, but coach told us, ‘I didn’t think I’d ever find a team that throws more bubbles than us but they do,’” Stanford said. “He preached to us that we had to stop that because (Bess) is very elusive.”

“We were comfortable going against their offense and I thought we adjusted to it well,” Rocha said. “We knew coming in they would throw a lot of bubbles. They actually didn’t throw any for a while because we were stopping it. But their receivers are taller, bigger and stronger.”

Anderson certainly got an idea how his counterparts must feel while preparing to face Forsyth’s offense.

“It’s not a lot of fun when you have two guys (Bess and Miranda) who are fast and hard to bring down and they can put them on either side of the field,” Anderson said. “You know you have to get extra people out there and then that makes you weaker in other spots. At the same time, it was fun to see an offense like that. The games we had lately, everyone was running in between the tackles on us.

“It was an interesting change of pace and made for a fun week of practices. We put in different wrinkles on defense.”

The turbo clock was in effect for only a couple minutes in the third quarter. After Lighthouse Christian went up 44-7, Forsyth answered with a one-yard touchdown pass from Deroo to Stanford and a 74-yard touchdown pass from Deroo to Rocha.

The Panthers even followed up by recovering an on-side kick.

Alas, Forsyth could get no closer, despite forcing four Chargers turnovers.

Forsyth picked off Matthews three times, with Darrien Woods posting a pair of interceptions and Buck Sanders one.

Woods had a highlight-reel pick in the first half, leaping over a teammate and a Lighthouse Christian receiver for a spectacular catch deep in Chargers territory.

The Panthers also were guilty of four turnovers, giving the ball away on fumbles three times.

“We gave them a short field too many times,” Anderson said. “When we turned the ball over, they capitalized and scored. When we created a turnover, right off the bat we would have a negative play to put ourselves behind and we would end up not doing anything.”

“Coach always says the only people who can stop us is ourselves,” Stanford said. “Tonight, there was always some sort of dumb penalty that could have been fixed.”

Lighthouse Christian 50, Panthers 27

LH Christian     16   20   8    6   -  50

Panthers           7     0   13    7   -  27


F - Stanford 49 pass from Deroo (Mayhew kick)

LC - Miranda 8 pass from Mathews (Miranda pass from Mathews)

LC - Mathews 24 run (T. Bess pass from Mathews)

LC - Miranda 9 pass from Mathews (pass failed)

LC - Mathews 1 run (pass failed)

LC - T. Bess 26 pass from Mathews (G. Bess pass from Mathews)

LC - T. Bess 6 pass from Mathews (Meier pass from Mathews)

F - Stanford 1 pass from Deroo (Mayhew kick)

F - Rocha 74 pass from Deroo (Mayhew kick)

LC - G. Bess 5 pass from Mathews (pass failed)

F - Rocha 12 pass from Deroo (Mayhew kick)

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