By David Purdum / For the AJC
No. 5 West Forsyth got a momentum-changing interception from Conner Vandenbos and a big performance from quarterback A.J. Erdely to come from behind and knock off Johns Creek in a battle of Region 6-AAAAAA unbeatens.
Erdely ran for two touchdowns and threw for another all in a dominating second half that saw the host Wolverines pull away for a 37-16 victory.
The Gladiators led 16-3 late in the first half and had just put together a goal-line stand, before Vandenbos’ made a diving interception of an ill-advised pass from Johns Creek’s Skye Overton. Five plays later, Trever O’Brien scored from two yards out to cut the Gladiators’ lead to 16-10 at the half.
O’Brien’s touchdown jumpstarted a run of 34 unanswered points, as the Wolverines scored on their first four possessions of the second half and put the game away with a pair of Jake Wieczorek touchdowns.
With the win, West Forsyth takes control of the region and improves to 6-0 for the first time in the school’s six seasons. The Wolverines are the only unbeaten team in the region.
“We’re still a young program and not on the same level as some the great teams in the state, but we’re getting better,” said West Forsyth coach Frank Hepler. “Our kids never hung our heads when we got down and kept fighting.”
Johns Creek popped the fifth-ranked Wolverines in the first quarter, with Overton going 61 yards on his first carry to put the Gladiators up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
A Kyle Fowler field goal and a 25-yard touchdown run by Chase Solomon put the Gladiators up 16-3 in the second quarter.
West Forsyth answered with a long drive to the Johns Creek 1 yard line. The Wolverines had three cracks at hit from the 1, but couldn’t punch it in the end zone.
The Gladiators had the ball and were two minutes away from taking a two-score lead into the locker room.
But Overton made an uncharacteristic mistake. The senior was under pressure and threw a pass late over the middle. Vandenboss, a senior linebacker, dove to his right and made the interception that changed everything.
Erdely tied the game, 16-16, on his first touchdown run, a 52-yard burst that capped the Wolverines’ opening possession of the second half.
The Wolverines took their first lead on a 1-yard sneak by Erdely that put West Forsyth up 23-16 with 6:25 left in the third quarter. A 79-yard completion from Erdely to Ty Anderson set up the go-ahead score.
Erdely, who is committed to Middle Tennessee, finished with 131 yards rushing and 136 passing.
The Gladiators (5-1, 2-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) had no answer in the second half and had two drives fizzle deep inside Wolverine’s territory.
Wieczorek had 168 yards rushing.
Johns Creek 9 7 0 0 – 16
West Forsyth 0 10 13 14 – 37
JC – Skye Overton 61 run (kick failed)
JC – Kyle Fowler 30 field goal
WF – Timmy Hartshorn 25 kick
JC – Chase Solomon 23 run (Fowler kick)
WF – Trever O’Brien 2 run (Hartshorn kick)
WF – A.J. Erdely 52 run (kick blocked)
WF – Erdely 1 run (Hartshorn kick)
WF – Jake Wieczorek 5 pass from Erdely (Hartshorn kick)
WF – Wieczorek 60 run (Hartshorn kick)