EAST BEND — After a two year hiatus, Yadkin County’s annual Unifi Bowl was able to take place on Friday night at Forbush High School. It had been well over 500 days since the Forbush Falcons and the Starmount Rams had faced off on the football field, with Starmount earning a 35-29 win over the Falcons in 2019. This time around, Forbush put up an early touchdown and never looked back. The Falcons put up the numbers they needed to earn a 21-6 win over Starmount.
The atmosphere in East Bend was electric, as fans from all over Yadkin County came to support their team. With one side of the stadium filled to the brim with red and blue, and the opposite side filled with orange and navy, the 2021 Unifi Bowl was one to remember. Forbush elected to receive the opening kick-off, which set the tone for the rest of the first quarter. Forbush started its drive on the 46-yard line with Andrew Hutchens handing the ball off to Derek Matthews for a four-yard gain.
The Falcons continued to drive down the field, with runs by Matthews and Nathan Hampton. On second and five, Forbush set up in shotgun formation at the 30-yard line. Hutchens wasted no time getting the ball from the snap and passing the ball down field to a wide open Chase Smitherman. The senior wide receiver made a perfect catch for a 30-yard touchdown. The extra point by David Guadarrama was through the uprights, and the Falcons led Starmount 7-0 with 10:06 left on the clock in the first quarter.
Starmount’s first drive of the game started on the 37-yard line and only advanced forward seven yards. The Rams were hit on the first play for a loss of five yards which they had trouble making up over the next three downs. On second and 15, Luke Kimmer passed the ball to Davion Coleman for an eight yard gain. Starmount tried to gain the final seven yards on the next play, but they came up just three yards short. On fourth and three, Starmount punted the ball away and the Falcons took back over.
After their first drive led to a touchdown, the Falcons lost their tempo on the second drive. Forbush never gained positive yards in four downs, which forced the home team to punt. After a lackluster two drives by both teams, the Rams took to the field and started on the 43-yard line. Starmount put together two strong drives to opening the series, which gave them their first first-down on the game. On third-and-five, Kimmer passed the ball downfield to Zack Dezern for a 26-yard gain. The play put Starmount on Forbush’s side of the field for the first time.
Just when it looked like the Rams were finding their momentum, penalties started to come their way. With a big play coming from the 29-yard line, Starmount was about to celebrate a touchdown when flags were thrown. The officials gathered together and shortly thereafter they called a chop-block on the Rams. The penalty backed the Rams up with the 45-yard line, and unfortunately things did not get any better from there.
The third down play was ruled incomplete, then on fourth down the Falcons came up with an interception. Matthews was in the right place at the right time as he easily picked off the throw by Kimmer to give Forbush the ball on the 37-yard line.
The pick-off by Matthews eventually led to a touchdown by the Falcons just three plays later. On second and four, Matthews broke through the middle of the pack and sprinted down the field for a 44-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good, and Forbush was sitting on a 14-0 lead with 1:40 left in the opening quarter.
As the first quarter turned into the second, Starmount was able to score their first points of the night. The Rams put together a 44-yard drive which ended at the 27-yard line. On fourth down Starmount sent out their kicker, Diego Zuniga, to take a 34-yard field goal attempt. Zuniga set up his shot and with nothing but confidence he set the play in motion, and the ball through the uprights. With 8:46 left before halftime, the Rams put three points on the board for a 14-3 score.
The rest of the second quarter continued on with neither team putting points on the board. Each team had an interception late in the half, but they were unable to make the most of the turnovers. At halftime, Forbush lead Starmount 14-3.
When the game was back in action, it took until the final quarter for either team to score. Throughout the third quarter, Starmount and Forbush both struggled to gain positive yardage. Penalties seemed to be the theme of the night, as neither team completed a full series without a flag being thrown. When it came down to the fourth and final quarter, Starmount was set up on the 10-yard line and faced with fourth-and-goal. Instead of going for the yards, the Rams put their kicking unit on the field. Zuniga proved to be the highlight for the Rams, as he put up three additional points for a 14-6 game.
After Starmount cut Forbush’s lead to just eight points, the Falcons turned up their tempo. On the next kick-off, the ball landed safely into the hands of Matthews. The senior looked down the field and planned out a perfect running route for a 96-yard kick-off return. The Falcon fans were on their feet, as Matthews had just given Forbush a 21-6 lead.
The final plays by both teams were stalled out and ended with a punt by Starmount and a knee by the Falcons. After four quarters of play, the Falcons took a 21-6 win over the Starmount Rams.
For the Falcons, quarterback Hutchens was 1-for-10 passing with one touchdown and a 30-yard completion. Matthews had 21 carries for 171-yards and two touchdowns. His longest receiving touchdown carry was 44-yards, and a kick-off return for 96-yards.
Starmount quarterback, Kimmer, went 13-for-23 passing, for 131 yards and two interceptions. Dezern led the Rams in rushing yards, with an accumulation of 21 carried for 75 yards. Davion Coleman had three carries for 31-yards, and Xavier King had one carry for nine-yards.
The Falcons now move to 3-0 and will travel to Thomasville on Friday night for their last non-conference game of the season. Starmount is sitting on a 1-2 record, and will travel to Pine Lake Prep on Friday.