By: Tim Danziger, writer for Forney Messenger
Falcons Defeat Frisco Heritage
The thunderstorm that rolled across the horizon north of town last Friday afternoon was an eerie reminder to North Forney football fans of a tumultuous 2018 season. Coming off their historic 2017 campaign, one that saw them play to a 10-3 record, and three rounds deep in the playoffs, hopes were high for an even better 2018. However, the loss of key players and inconsistent play throughout the season led the Falcons to drop back into the District 8-5A pack, finishing 3-5 in district (4-6 overall), and missing the playoffs.
Friday night’s game, their season opener against Frisco Heritage, was played under clear skies and with cooler temperatures as the Falcons announced that Goonville may, in fact, be back. The game played at City Bank Stadium, quickly took on a 2017 feel. Led by junior quarterback Jacob Acuna, who finished with 185 yards passing and four touchdowns, running backs Jacob Soto and Ty Collins, who combined for 260 yards on the ground, and a swarming defense, the Falcons scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in racing out to a 24-6 halftime lead. The Falcons also scored the first 14 points of the second half in cruising to a 45-24 win over the Coyotes.
North Forney finished with 569 yards of total offense, 384 of those on the ground, while giving up 332 yards.
After the game, Head Coach Randy Jackson said, “I am proud of a lot of things from this game. The offensive line did a really good job of playing as a unit. We played fast. We did a good job of mashing. When you run the ball the way we did, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Following the opening kickoff, the Coyotes took possession of the ball on their 48-yard line, and the Falcons’ defense hit the field first regular season series. With junior Roderick Brown anchoring the middle of the defensive line, the first play from scrimmage showed what the Coyotes would face the entire night, as running back Cameron Rose was stuffed for no gain. The Coyotes’ passing game was only slightly more effective and the drive stalled at the Falcons’ 33-yard line, where North Forney took over on downs.
Playing fast and furious, it took eight plays for the Falcons to drive 67 yards to score their first points of the season, a pass from Acuna to junior receiver Collyn Shipley (two catches, 36 yards, 2 TD) for 15 yards and six points. Jacob Soto, who finished the game with 27 carries for 184 yards and a touchdown, had five carries for 25 yards on the drive.
On their next possession, a pass interference call and two long passes, the Coyotes’ Easton Swetnam connecting with Kyle Bradford and Hunter Smith on consecutive plays, gave Heritage the ball first-and-goal on the Falcons’ one-yard line. The Falcons’ defense pushed the Coyotes back to the five-yard line where, on third-and-goal, senior safety Jewelz Demps picked off Swetnam’s pass at the goal line and returned it seven yards.
Taking over at their seven-yard line, the Falcons embarked on a long, 15-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by Shipley’s diving catch in the end zone for his second touchdown of the night. While it looked like the ball may have hit the ground first, Shipley did well to get his hands under it as he went to the
ground, and the referees quickly signaled touchdown. The Falcons ran the ball ten times on the drive, with Soto and Collins (15 carries for 75 yards) splitting the load.
At the end of the first quarter the Falcons led 14-0 and, in an attempt to catch their breath and slow North Forney down, the Coyotes had already used to all three of their first half time outs.
The Falcons were in no mood to slow down and, after another stifling defensive series, they once again took over on downs. Soto and Collins did most of the damage on the ground as the Falcons moved to the Coyotes’ 12-yard line but would have to settle for a 29-yard Carlos Rodriguez field goal, and 17-0 lead, with 8:15 left in the half.
“We ask our guys to play fast and physical. There were a lot of times when we are moving down the field and we are lined up and ready to snap the ball, and they still have guys trying to back to the line of scrimmage. I am super pleased with our kids’ effort.” Offensive Coordinator Mike Ludlow commented after the game.
The Coyotes scored their first points of the game with 3:57 left in the second quarter, an eight-yard pass from Swetnam to Rose. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Falcons lead was cut to 11, 17-6.
North Forney scored again with 14 seconds left in the half, with Soto the workhouse on the five-play, 69-yard drive. However, it was junior Kristian Aricheta, the Falcons’ leading receiver on the night, who put a double move on the cornerback and found himself open down the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown strike from Acuna. Aricheta ended the night with two catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons opened the second half moving the ball much like they did in the first half until a Soto fumble, one of three North Forney turnovers on the night, gave Heritage the ball at their 16-yard line.
Once again, the defense stepped up forcing a three-and-out after the Falcons knocked down a third-down pass intended for the Coyotes’ Jordan Gregory. The Falcons knocked down five Swetnam passes, including two by sophomore Antorius Hambric.
The ensuing drive saw Soto and Aricheta trading places from the previous scoring drive. This time it was Aricheta with another 36-yard grab to set up Soto’s three-yard touchdown run. Rodriguez’s extra point attempt was good and, with 7:20 left in the third quarter, the Falcons’ lead was extended to 31-6.
After forcing their second turnover on defense, a fumble caused by Hambric and recovered by Brown, the Falcons scored again. Taking over at the Heritage 38, the Falcons worked their way down to the 20-yard line before Acuna hit senior wide receiver Nick Booe on for a touchdown. Acuna’s fourth touchdown pass gave the Falcons a 38-6 lead with 3:03 left in the third.
The Coyotes, troubled by the Falcons’ defense all night, finally found success in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points, while the Falcons rested most of their starters.
“We flew around the football. We played really physical up front and didn’t allow much in the run game there. They hit us on the edge, at the perimeter, and we flew to the ball and made plays.” Said Defense Coordinator Ryan Porter. “Forcing them back from the one-yard line, and then getting the turnover, gave us a lot of confidence.”
While Soto and Collins had the bulk of the carries for the Falcons, it Akanimo Asuquo, a running back that has converted to defensive end this season that had the longest run of the night for the Falcons. Nearing the eight-minute mark of the fourth, with the Falcons leading 38-14, Asuquo took the handoff straight up the middle and went 49 yards untouched for the touchdown.
Heritage came back with 10 points in the final 6:30 of the game, to close out the scoring at 45-24.
The Falcons look to finish their non-district schedule at 2-0 when they travel to Wylie ISD Stadium on Friday night to face the Wylie East Raiders. Game time is 7:30PM. Wylie East is 0-1 after losing to Mt Pleasant last week.