Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mount Zion quarterback Montel Buchanan listens to instructions during a timeout in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 28-17 win over Forest Park Friday at Tara Stadium.
Mount Zion and Forest Park each came into Tara Stadium Friday searching for their first win of the season.
Mount Zion used a potent rushing attack for a 28-17 Region 4-AAAA win.
Both teams struggled with their opening possessions of the game, with each team turning over the ball. After Forest Park lost the ball on its second fumble of the game, Mount Zion assembled a 30-yard drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run from junior running back Deon Dawson to take a 7-0 lead with 2:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Mount Zion kicked the ball onside and recovered on the Panthers’ 23. Bulldogs junior quarterback Montel Buchanan led the Bulldogs down the field and managed to get them inside the 10-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.
On the first play of the second quarter, Buchanan wasted no time as he scored on a 7-yard run for a 14-0 lead with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
Forest Park fought back on the third play of the ensuing drive. Senior quarterback Lem Fuller completed a pass to sophomore running back DeJuan Simms. Simms seemed to have a touchdown in his sights but the Bulldogs senior defensive back Keith Darnell sprinted down the field to tackle Simms at the 6-yard line.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Buchanan threw an interception that would prove costly.
Senior linebacker Achilles Jackson returned the interception 45 yards for a score with 26 seconds remaining in the opening half as the Panthers trailed 14-7.
Determined not to end the half on a bad note, the Bulldogs managed some last-second heroics of their own. Junior running back DeAnthony Franklin caught the ball at the 15-yard line and pitched the ball to junior Emmanuel Parks on a reverse. Parks ran through the Panther defense for a 85-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs took a 21-7 lead heading into the half, and each team was held scoreless in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Buchanan once again led the charge for the Bulldogs as he ran 39 yards to Forest Park’s 5-yard line. Dawson scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard run to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 28-10 lead with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Forest Park was quick to answer back, as Fuller burst up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown run as the Panthers trailed 28-17 with 7:53 remaining in the quarter. Mount Zion’s defense held off the Panthers’ late comeback attempt as the Bulldogs came away with their first victory of the season.
Buchanan led the Bulldogs’ offense with 10 carries for 101 yards. Dawson contributed 82 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Darnell anchored Mount Zion’s defense with four tackles and a recovered fumble.
The Panthers’ offense was led by Fuller’s seven carries for 114 yards and a touchdown. Forest Park’s defense managed to sack Buchanan five times and was led by Jackson’s eight tackles and one sack.