After watching him for nearly three years, Colonial Forge coach Bill Brown tends to forget that Josh Sarratt is human. But a rare reminder of the junior’s mortality arrived early in Friday's Class 6, Region B championship game against Machester.
On the Eagles’ opening drive, the normally sure-handed Sarratt dropped a pair of passes that would’ve gone for first downs.
“Josh is never going to lack confidence, and we’re never going to lack confidence in him,” Brown said. “I heard [receivers coach Ryan Mytrysak] say, ‘Come on, what’s wrong?’”
In short, nothing.
Sarratt shook off his slow start to score three touchdowns—two rushing and one receiving—and recorded an interception on defense as Colonial Forge pulled away in the second half of a 48–27 victory. The win sets up a state semifinal showdown with perennial power Oscar Smith next Saturday at 2 p.m.
Defense dominated the first quarter, with the Eagles and Lancers combining for three turnovers and the only points coming on the first of Jadon Redding’s two field goals.
The momentum swung for good just before halftime. With Manchester leading 14–10 and the Eagles driving for a go-ahead score, Kwame Dehaney undercut an Ethan Garwood pass in the flat, juggling the ball before securing it and weaving 96 yards into the endzone.
“My heart dropped at first,” Sarratt said of the apparent turnover.
But so did a flag, which gifted the Eagles a re-do due to defensive holding. Two plays later, Sarratt plunged into the end zone from three yards out, completing the potential 14-point swing and giving Colonial Forge a 17–14 lead at the break.
The Eagles (12–0) didn’t look back. Manchester (11–1) lost three fumbles and committed 11 penalties, choosing an inopportune time to turn in its sloppiest performance of the season, according to Lancers coach Tom Hall.
“It’s kind of a tough pill knowing that we didn’t play our best football game,” Hall said.
Outside of a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes, Sarratt and the Eagles’ secondary had an antidote to the potent passing attack directed by Manchester quarterback Brendon Clark, a Wake Forest recruit.
“We were stemming, giving him reads he wasn’t used to,” Sarratt said. “Just trying to play with his mind and make it mental game as much as it was a physical game, and it worked.”
Meanwhile, Garwood completed 13 of 23 passes for 202 yards, tossing scores to Sarratt and tight end Mitchell Shinskie.
Before Friday’s game, Brown reminded the Eagles what was at stake. Winning a region crown was great, but mostly because it ensured a rematch with the Tigers. Months of hard work were undone in the final 10 seconds of Colonial Forge’s 27–20 loss to Oscar Smith in last year’s 6A South region final.
“You have to get on the bus, you have to go home, you have to wait a whole year, and then you have to get through 12 opponents to get to back to that moment,” Brown said.
CF—Jadon Redding 32 field goal.
M—Collin Harding 44 pass from Brendon Clark (Jake Lero kick).
CF—Mitchell Shinskie 13 yard pass from Ethan Garwood (Redding kick).
M—Harding 13 pass from Clark (Lero kick).
CF—Josh Sarratt 3 run (Redding kick).
CF—Sarratt 44 pass from Garwood (Redding kick).
CF—Garwood 1 run (Redding kick).
CF—Liam Kauthen 13 run (Redding kick).
CF—Redding 24 field goal
M—Clark 1 run (pass fail).
CF—Sarratt 37 run (Redding kick).
M—Isaiah Todd 10 run (Lero kick).
RUSHING: Manchester—Isaiah Todd 14-113, TD; Brendon Clark 13-40; Jaysen Glover 4-25. Colonial Forge—Liam Kauthen 16-89, TD; Ernesto Bowen 4-4; Max Kauthen 1-1; Josh Sarratt 8-84, 2 TDs; Ethan Garwood 5-32, TD; D.J. Dennis 2-14; Preston Morgan 8-28.
PASSING: Manchester—Brendon Clark 11-19-1, 158 yards, 2 TDs; Colonial Forge—Garwood 13-23-1, 202 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING: Manchester—Collin Harding 2-57, 2 TDs; Jonathan Rose 3-41, Val West 1-28, Todd 2-20, Alston Robinson 1-11, Brandon Majette 2-9. Colonial Forge—Josh Sarratt 4-97, TD; Zack Kindel 4-57, D.J. Dennis 1-15, Liam Kauthen 2-7, Shinskie 1-13, TD, Bowen 1-13.