It didn’t take Cherokee (1-2) long to make its first mistake. After receiving the kickoff, the Warriors turned the ball over less than 2 minutes later. Wide receiver Armony Parker was stripped of the ball, and North Forsyth (3-0) recovered on Cherokee’s 38-yard line.
The Raiders capitalized on the change of possession, with running back Jamal Davenport punching it in from 3 yards out 4 minutes later to cap a 10-play drive.
Three series later, Cherokee turned it over again.
As Spencer Ashley attempted to throw a deep ball to Hunter Wingfield, the Cherokee quarterback was hit from the side, and his pass fell into the hands of North Forsyth linebacker Eric Fitzgerald.
Five plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, Harris Roberts threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Branson Marks to give the Raiders a 14-point lead that the Warriors were never able to eclipse.
“We are just not a good enough football team right now for us to continuously make mistakes and be able to overcome them,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “Great teams can do that — can overcome mistakes — but we’ve got a ways to go before we get to that point.”
Ashley was under pressure the entire night, with little time to work from the pocket, and he was sacked five times for a loss of 35 yards. But Cherokee eventually got on the board with less than 5 minutes to go in the second half, thanks to the effort of its young quarterback.
After being wrapped up deep in the backfield, Ashley escaped two defenders and ran past a third before throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Willie Cyrus.
Cherokee miss the extra point, however, and went into the half down 14-6.
The Warriors started strong in the second half, marching 65 yards down the field after a defensive stop, which ended with Ashley and Parker hooking up once again for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Cherokee seemed to have tied the score with a successful 2-point conversion, but a flag was thrown on the Warriors for illegal formation.
Cherokee tried the conversion again, but Ashley was sacked.
The Warriors failed to score again, and two touchdown passes from Roberts sealed the game for North Forsyth.
The Raiders were led by Roberts, who was 8-of-11 passing for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
Ashley was 29-of-37 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Parker caught the ball eight times for 98 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Harris had 11 catches for 106 yards.
“I’m very proud of Spencer,” Shaw said. “He was punished, but he popped up every single time. He was under duress, and he made some big plays.”
North Forsyth coach Blair Armstrong said that he felt Cherokee’s program would continue to improve under Shaw, its first-year coach.
“They are a very good team under Shaw,” Armstrong said. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be very successful. They’ll be just fine.”