Wake Forest scrubs Garner for the 4-AA East Regional title in football for a third chance in five years at the state crown.
Wake Forest 27
by Marty Simpkins
WAKE FOREST — The Cougars physically dominated the Garner Trojans, 27-13 last Friday night to win the 4AA Eastern Regional.
Wake Forest running back Bryce Love injured his shoulder in the last game against Millbrook. He showed everyone that his shoulder was fine by breaking off a 90-yard touchdown run on third and seven to score the first touchdown of the game for Wake Forest, putting them up 7-0. He had 135 rushing yards on just four carries in only the first quarter.
There was a slight scare later on in the game when Love re-aggravated his shoulder injury with six minutes left in the first half.
On the very next play, quarterback Mack Moore threw a 9-yard fade route to Brooks Cunningham in the back right corner of the end zone to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead. The touchdown was Cunningham's 10th of the season.
Garner was shut out the entire first half, but on the opening drive of the second half, they scored on a quarterback sneak to get their first points of the game, giving Wake Forest only a 14-6 lead after the Cougars blocked the extra point attempt.
Wake Forest answwered back in the fourth quarter with another touchdown pass from Moore to Cunningham stretching the Cougars' lead to 20-6. It was a play-action pass and there were no defenders within 10 yards of Cunningham when he made the touchdown grab.
The Trojans seemed to shift momentum after blocking a Wake Forest punt and returning it for a touchdown. With the score now 20-13, things were starting to get tense.
"Any time you play an explosive team like Garner, you've got to play the whole game," Lucas said. "Even down in the fourth quarter, our kids couldn't let up. We were up two scores and then they blocked a punt and now we're only up by seven points. We couldn't let up and I think that's how we played tonight."
Lucas' coaching philosophy showed on the very next Cougar possession when Love scored on a 57-yard run. Any hope of a Garner comeback was crushed after that huge play.
For the second straight year in a row, Wake Forest will be playing Mallard Creek in the 4-AA State Championship game. Last year, Mallard Creek thrashed the Cougars, 59-21 to seize the state title.
The game will be played at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Lucas said that he and his team will watch some film and prepare for their biggest game of the season.
"I'm proud for the kids," Lucas said. "It's unbelievable. As a whole staff, we put in 16 weeks for two years in a row. That's a lot of work. These kids want to play, they want to practice and so I'm proud of them for coming out here and getting it done."
(See gallery photos here.)
6:36 Bryce Love 90 yard run. 7-0 WF
5:58 Mack Moore to Brooks Cunningham for 9 yards. 14-0 WF
8:06 Garner 1-yard QB Sneak. 14-6. PAT blocked.
8:59 Moore to Cunningham for 23 yards. 20-6. PAT no good.
5:01 Garner blocked punt return for TD. 20-13.
4:14 Love 57 yard run for TD. 27-13.