Photo by Jerry Jackson
Forest Park running back Brandon Williams looks for an opening in the Creekside defense during the first half of the non-region at Tara Stadium on Friday.
JONESBORO — Fumbles dug Forest Park a hole it was unable to escape Friday in a 40-0 loss to Creekside at Tara Stadium.
Out of six fumbles in the first half, the Panthers committed the last four, giving Creekside an edge in field position that led to easy scores.
“We gave them the ball four times in the first half. That definitely doesn’t help,” said first-year Forest Park head coach Don Williams. “We knew it was going to be an extraordinary effort to beat a team like that. We had a good effort, but good isn’t going to beat a team like that.”
It only took three plays for the Seminoles to capitalize off the first Forest Park fumble. Elliott Berry ran up the middle from 10 yards to help give Creekside (2-2) an 8-0 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter. A minute later, Elliott’s twin brother, Evan, lined up on the left wing, took a pitch to his right and zigged-zagged to the end zone for a 14-0 Seminoles lead.
Forest Park (0-3) was able to prevent Creekside from scoring after Linell Gaston fumbled a kickoff return at the 20 and fumbled from scrimmage at his own 10. The Panthers stopped the Seminoles on downs at the 15 after the kickoff and at the 4-yard line after Gaston’s second fumble.
That, however, gave the Panthers long fields to play. Creekside took advantage on a Cameron Jackson 35-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
Finally, Panthers quarterback Irvin Balfour coughed the ball up. On the very next play, Elliott Berry found Chris Sanders-McCollum for a 30-yard touchdown and a 28-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Deantre Turman had an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Devonte Wilson scored on a 10-yard run.
Elliott Berry finished the game with 53 yards on nine carries as the Berry brothers only played a half.
The Panthers had trouble getting their ground game established as DeJuan Simms was held to 10 yards on 11 carries. Simms came into the game with 208 yards in two outings.
“They weren’t reading anything,” Williams said. “They were just hitting the gaps, beating us off the line of scrimmage. We’ve got a good line, but tonight we just got beat up front as a team.”
Early on, it was Forest Park living off the fumbles as Derrion Davis and Earl Jones both recovered Creekside fumbles. The Panthers were unable to get any drives going and came away with no points to show for them.
The matchup of teams from opposing subregions was the third straight year they have met, with Creekside winning the previous two contests by a combined score of 80-14.
“We’re trying to get on that path of success,” Williams said. “It just takes more than one year to turn a program around.”
Forest Park visits Whitewater next Friday night.