Few people gave sixth-seeded Forest Hills much of a chance Saturday night against No. 3 Central in their District 6 Class AA quarterfinal matchup.
That was just fine with the Rangers, who threw for over 200 yards against the Scarlet Dragons and went on to surprise their hosts, 21-7.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” said Forest Hills coach Don Bailey, whose team will travel to Ligonier Valley for next week’s semifinal. “They (Central) were bigger than us up front and our kids played their hearts out offensively and defensively. We started four sophomores and a freshman here tonight. Our kids played so hard and with our senior leadership, they were just able to overcome a lot of adversity to get here. We were 2-3 at one point in the season.”
Sophomore quarterback Joe Donoughe was 19 of 29 passing for 209 yards for the Rangers
(8-3). Seniors Jared Shope and Doltyn Snedden combined for 17 catches for 192 of those yards. Shope and Snedden each had an interception for Forest Hills.
“I think it’s amazing that we were able to win this game,” said Shope, who had 10 catches for 98 yards. “We were the underdogs, but it was unbelievable what we did tonight. We played for 48 minutes straight. Our line did an awesome job pass protecting and Joe threw unbelievable. Doltyn and I and our tight ends made the plays when we had to.”
it was the host Dragons (8-3) who got on the board first. Central’s Zac Emerick picked off Donoughe to stop a first-quarter Rangers drive. The hosts drove the opposite direction, scoring on the sixth play from scrimmage on a 1-yard run by Todd Slick. D.C. Helsel’s kick gave Central the 7-0 lead at the 11:07 mark.
The Rangers passing game began to loosen up the Central defense on their answering drive. On the nine-play drive, there were five straight passes, four caught by Snedden, to move Forest Hills down to the 14. Shawn Dell did the rest, scoring three plays later on a 3-yard run. Derek Dumm’s kick evened the game.
Forest Hills went ahead on its next drive, a
14-play drive which consumed nearly six minutes and ended on a Donoughe 1-yard run and Dumm kick.
The Rangers scored on the opening drive of the second half, moving 47 yards on five plays with Donoughe throwing to Shope for the 10-yard touchdown and Dumm added the extra point. After that, it was the Rangers defense that took over.
“Give credit to our defense,” Bailey said. “They played an outstanding game and have been our strength all season long.”
Forest Hills limited Central’s leading rusher, Bradi Moore, to just 16 yards on seven carries while Slick had 23 yards on three carries and quarterback Austin Cunningham, eight carries for 15 yards.
“They were good, their quarterback was excellent and they made all their catches,” Central coach Dave Baker said. “They made the plays that won the game. We were not able to sustain much running and were not able to complete short passes.”