Rangers rumble past Commodores for first winAugust 30, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — The Forest Park football team had a simple agenda for their home opening-game against the Perry Central Commodores. Last season when the two teams met the Commodores laid down a 45-0 thrashing on the Rangers which head coach Ross Fuhs called one of the worst games he ever coached in his eight years at the school. So with that in mind the Rangers wanted to come back and flip that script this season.
“Everything that could have went wrong last year did,” said Fuhs. “We just talked a lot about that before the game. We needed to come back and get a little revenge this year.”
It looked like the ugly history might repeat itself again as everything started going wrong on Forest Park’s end to start the game. But the Rangers were able to come together and fight through adversity as they went on to defeat the Commodores 30-20 for their first win of the season.
The Rangers fumbled on their first drive which led to Perry Central’s first score after a 24-yard connection between junior quarterback Cameron Bland and junior tight end Reece Davis.
Bloodied but not beaten the Rangers set out on their second drive, which ended on its third play after sophomore quarterback Cooper Uebelhor threw an interception to Davis.
Fortunately the Commodores weren’t able to cash in, and the Rangers defense forced a three-and-out.
The Rangers finally produced effective offense on their third drive as put they together a 12-play series that culminated in a 12-yd touchdown run for senior running back Drew Day, which tied the game at 7-all with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.
The Rangers tried to keep the momentum going after they were blessed to start their next series at Perry Central’s 25, but a holding penalty in the redzone cost them what would have been a 5-yard scoring run by Day, and they had to settle for trotting out senior kicker Abby Eckert for a 27-yd FG.
The Rangers shot themselves in the foot once again shortly after that.
Starting from their own 19, Uebehlor and Day fumbled a handoff exchange and put the ball on the ground for the second time, which was recovered by Perry Central. Three plays later Bland called his own number and took a QB keeper 25 yards for the Commodores second touchdown.
Forest Park managed to score another field goal before halftime, but they couldn’t help but kick themselves with how a few mistakes had them going into the locker room with a 14-13 deficit.
“We felt we could have been up at halftime by a couple of scores,” said Fuhs. "But instead of grinding the guys down with their mistakes the coach chose to encourage the guys to keep pushing and stay positive in a game that was very much still within reach.
“We really got together and said no more errors and we could easily win this game,” said senior running back/linebacker Cole Mohr.
“Never give up, that’s what we kept telling each other in the huddle,” added Day.
To that end, the Ranger defense came out with purpose and forced Perry Central into a three-and-out to start the second half.
Forest Park took its gift and converted it into a 32-yard FG to go up 16-14.
The defense once again made short work of Perry Central’s next offensive series and Day, who had been pounding the Commodores defenders for two-and-a-half quarters, finally broke the big one and took his twenty-fifth carry 48 yards for the score that broke Perry Central’s back.
The Commodores did manage to score once more on a 24-yard run by Bland early in the fourth quarter, but Mohr jumped a route with less than five minutes left to play which he returned seven yards for the final Ranger touchdown that put any notion of a Commodores come back to bed.
“Coach Fuhs does so many hours of film that he knew if they’re lining up trips and had (Davis) bubble out it was a tight end screen,” said Mohr. “So I read that, went in there and got that pick. First touchdown ever.”
Uebelhor finished 4-for-10 passing for 48 yards and an interception.
Day led Forest Park with 195 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns.
Senior tight end/defensive end Gavin Knust had two catches for 32 yards.
Bland finished 9 of15 for 62 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Davis had two catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
Fuhs was proud of the way his boys hung in at the start when nothing seemed to work, and praised how they found a way to bounce back from their season opening defeat against Gibson Southern to collect their first win of the season in front of the home crowd.
“Just extremely happy for the kids, especially with the way the first half went,” he said. “We just told them to stay the course, and I couldn’t be prouder of of these guys’ efforts. Our kids are very resilient. We knew what we were getting into week one, and we’re still going to have a bunch of tough games left this year. Our schedule is real tough, so we’re going to have to get better every week. They could have came in this week down in the dumps, but they didn’t. They came to practice, worked hard, and get results from doing that.”
Forest Park (1-1) travels to Southridge next Friday.
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